British Fashion Awards | Open for business?

LONDON, United Kingdom – Yesterday evening’s British Fashion Awards ceremony was a wonderful occasion to celebrate the best in British Fashion Talent. There was a very impressive list of awards categories and an even more impressive list of winners, but I couldn’t fight this nagging feeling that something was missing.

Then, I realised that there was not even one award to acknowledge the various talented business people who also make their own kind of fashion magic, and are an essential part of the British fashion eco-system.

Over the course of the evening, awards were given out for everything from Designer Brand (Jimmy Choo) and Fashion Creator (Tim Walker) to Red Carpet Designer (Matthew Williamson) and Designer of the Year (Luella Bartley) to Model of the Year (Jourdan Dunn). Two new awards were also given out for top Emerging Talent, and I was lucky be seated at a table between the two winners, for Ready-to-Wear (Louise Goldin) and Accessories (Nicholas Kirkwood), both extremely deserving of their honours.

The highlight was seeing (and hearing) the affable Stephen Jones accept an award for Outstanding Achievement for over two decades of work in cutting-edge millinery for the likes of Comme des Garcons, Marc Jacobs, John Galliano for Dior, Giles Deacon and L’Wren Scott. Of his chosen metier, Jones quipped “it is the Esperanto of fashion; nobody does it.”

But, the lack of a business award was especially surprising coming from the British Fashion Council, an organisation which has been desperately trying to shore up its own business credentials and the marketability of British fashion in general. To acknowledge photographers, models, designers and not recognise even one business type was a glaring omission.

It’s not like there was a shortage of business talent around. I spotted Joseph Velosa (the business partner of Matthew Williamson), James MacArthur (the new CEO of Harrods), and Natalie Massenet (Founder and Chairman of Net-a-Porter, recently interviewed on BoF), amongst others.

Maybe one of these three will be honoured next year? Stay tuned.

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  1. You raise an excellent point. For some reason, it seems that in the U.K. (unlike in France or Italy), the mercantile aspect of fashion is seen as unseemly or downright crass. I’m not sure why this is the case but I’ve encountered this attitude more than once. If talented designers are to thrive and the British fashion industry is to flourish, I think skilled business executives attuned to the needs of the industry are needed and should be recognized for their own particular contributions to British fashion. Helene The Luxe Chronicles

    Helene from Cramlington, Northumberland, United Kingdom
  2. Several years ago I was invited to say Hello to Oscar de la Renta and Boaz Mirza. I revered the moment of acknowledgement from Mr de la Renta, but revelled in the fascinating sales technique of Mr Mirza, a gem of a brand ambassador who turns a garden party into a million dollar trunk show smash. He’s on the sales and business team, but when clients are asked to describe what he does, the usual response was along the lines of ‘he’s simply Magic’. A quote attributed to Andy Warhol might give courage to someone at the BFC to join your righteous crusade to endorse the rest of the team responsible for realizing the rare fusion we know as art and science or simply, the business of fashion. When I get the funny sensation that the rest of our Olympian team is not being acknowledged, I’ve been known to brazenly rephrase Warhol’s quote thus (and haven’t been called on it once): “[Fashion is art].. ‘Making money is art…. and good business is the best art.’ ”

    Randall from Albany, CA, United States