The London press got together last night for the U.K.’s biggest style event outside fashion week: the British Fashion Awards. There were surprise appearances from Gwyneth Paltrow, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace; major awards for Kate Moss, Harry Styles, and Christopher Kane; and an impassioned speech about journalistic integrity from Suzy Menkes.
The setting was the London Coliseum, a grand West End theater that had been half-converted into a supper club for the event. The major designers, models, and celebrities ate “British tapas” in a dining area in front of the stage while the rest of us were given popcorn and ice cream and seated in the auditorium.
The evening’s #BFA hashtag was overtaken by One Direction fans when Harry Styles showed up and received the British Style Award – voted for by the public, naturally. But the biggest moments of the night were two Special Recognition Awards, given to Moss and Menkes in honor of their long careers. Moss’s award was presented by Marc Jacobs, who introduced her with a touching speech that he’d written down so that he “wouldn’t screw it up:”
About two and a half decades ago, I was mesmerized by a Corinne Day photograph of the most uniquely beautiful and imperfectly perfect girl I had ever seen. Shortly afterwards, Kate and I worked together for the first time. It was my grunge collection, and while that show marked the end of my Perry Ellis career, it began what is once of my most cherished, special and long friendships … The legendary Kate is not only a fashion icon. She embodies the spirit of London; she is a woman of incomparable style; she is bold, talented, sharp, dynamic, and fearless. Her character, her beauty, and her distinct individuality is a constant inspiration to every stylist, editor, photographer, and designer who has had the great privilege to work with her. Kate has always defied convention and stands alone. She truly is the rarest of jewels. So while England may have two Kates, in my heart there is only one. The one, the only Kate Moss.
(Note to the British Fashion Council: if Kate Middleton ever wins an award, someone else better present it.)
Moss, wearing a leather Alexander McQueen dress, strutted runway-style from her table to the stage, embraced Jacobs warmly, and remarked that the experience was “so weird, very very surreal” before skipping off stage to another event being held in her honor: a party at the Playboy Club in honor of her recent cover.
Menkes, on the other hand, used the occasion to deliver a few meaningful words about what is becoming one of her regular topics: impartiality. Speaking to the roomful of journalists, all of whom were enjoying a free night out and leaving with a gift bag, she said:
The people I’d really like to thank may surprise you. They are my editors from when I first started … The great thing about all those editors was that they simply couldn’t imagine that any journalist could take anything that would harm their perception of how to write the story. In other words: no freebies, no free trips – [rules] that to this day I carry with me. But at that time, that’s what all the editors did. And there has been something of a falling down in these recent years, and it’s a difficult time for fashion, a difficult time for newspapers. But I do believe that those editors have instilled in me the feeling that it’s right to step away, not to be too much in bed with designers, and never to accept things as presents. And I know this sounds very quaint and old-fashioned now, but it’s something that I believe in deeply. Thank you to those editors and thank you to everyone who’s been cheering me tonight.
It was an important night for Christopher Kane, who said he was thrilled to “finally” win the Womenswear Designer of the Year Award, presented by Donatella Versace. Earlier in the night, Versace received her own tribute of sorts when, in his acceptance speech for the New Establishment Designer Award, the young designer J.W. Anderson said that she’d taught him “how to go from mini to maxi.” She was looking very ‘maxi’ herself, in head-to-toe black sequins.
The full list of winners:
Emerging Womenswear Designer: Simone Rocha
Emerging Accessories Designer: Sophia Webster
Emerging Menswear Designer: Agi & Sam
Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator: Lady Amanda Harlech
Model of the Year: Edie Campbell
Red Carpet Designer of the Year: Erdem
New Establishment Designer: J.W. Anderson
Brand of the Year: Burberry
Vodafone British Style Award: Harry Styles
BFC Outstanding Achievement in Fashion: Terry and Tricia Jones
International Designer of the Year: Prada
Accessory Designer of the Year: Nicholas Kirkwood
Menswear Designer of the Year: Christopher Bailey MBE for Burberry
Womenswear Designer of the Year: Christopher Kane
Special Recognition Award: Kate Moss
Special Recognition Award: Suzy Menkes