LONDON, United Kingdom — On Tuesday night at London’s Hotel Café Royal, the British Fashion Council announced the 2017 winners of its annual BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, which awards £200,000 and provides mentoring to up to three British-based emerging designers with the potential for becoming global fashion forces. For the first time in the award’s eight-year history, the council honoured two brands instead of one: Mother of Pearl, the sportswear-inspired brand founded in 2002 by Maia Norman and now under the creative direction of Amy Powney, and Palmer Harding, the men’s and women’s shirt label founded in 2012 by Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding.
British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, who announced her forthcoming departure from the title in December, explained that the organisation decided to “earmark” the prize money this year, as a response to “what we’ve seen happening for the winners and also the effects of Brexit." Shulman said that winners have often used the money unwisely by hiring very expensive executives: “We also wanted to make sure that the additional cash wasn’t used for a one splash wonder — that it really would be wisely invested.” In addition to requiring more business plan details from the short list, the organisation decided to “spread the benefit” of the prize to two labels this year even before deliberations began. The American counterpart, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, made a similar decision in 2015 when it recognised three labels as winners.
“It’s been wonderful to see what everybody has done, in this eighth year, and I very much hope that whoever takes over for me gets as much pleasure from this as I have done,” said Schulman.
Other judges included Caroline Rush of the British Fashion Council, Gemma Metheringham of Label, Helen David of Harrods, Lisa Armstrong of The Daily Telegraph, Mary Homer of Topshop, Sarah Manley of Burberry, Susanne Tide-Frater of Farfetch and Samantha Cameron, an ambassador of the British Fashion Council.