The proceedings, hosted by actor and advocate Tracee Ellis Ross, opened with a performance by British rapper Little Simz and a parade of all-white designs by students at Central Saint Martins. It closed with wave after wave of outfits from the night’s honouree for outstanding achievement, Giorgio Armani, and a set by Eric Clapton.
This year’s Fashion Awards drew a notably starry crowd, including industry leaders like Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful and Donatella Versace, who were joined by Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett and others.
Kering-backed label Bottega Veneta swept the night, winning brand of the year and garnering multiple awards for Creative Director Daniel Lee. Other winners included Rihanna, who took home the urban luxe prize for her work at Fenty, Adut Akech, who won model of the year, and Naomi Campbell, who was named the year’s Fashion Icon.
Amid the glitz and glamour, the industry paused to remember those who passed away this year, including a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld.
The Fashion Awards were relaunched four years ago in a bid to beef up London’s position in the fashion calendar. In a well-publicised rebrand, the BFC changed the event’s name from the British Fashion Awards to simply The Fashion Awards — a change intended to give the evening a more global feel. Former BFC chairman Natalie Massenet told The Business of Fashion at the time that the goal was to create a "mix of the Academy Awards and the Met Ball.”
While the celebrity-fuelled event still doesn’t garner the frenzy of outfit speculation or enjoy the column inches dedicated to those events, the BFC put on a glitzy show. The night also provided an opportunity to advocate for more inclusivity within the fashion industry after a year of missteps.
“It is important to remember that someone like me winning this award is a rarity,” Akech said in an emotional acceptance speech. “This award is bigger than me.”
In addition, the award for positive change went to the brands who have signed on to the UN’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, a nod to efforts to tackle fashion’s significant impact on the environment.
“Fashion is growing and waking up in ways that helps us tell truer narratives,” said Ellis Ross in her opening speech. “But we can still do better.”
The full list of winners and honorees:
Award for Positive Change: The signatories to the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action
Outstanding Achievement: Giorgio Armani
Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator: Sam McKnight
Fashion Icon: Naomi Campbell
Designers’ Designer: Christopher Kane for Christopher Kane
Brand of the Year: Bottega Veneta
Designer of the Year: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta
British Designer of the Year — Menswear: Kim Jones for Dior
British Designer of the Year — Womenswear: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta
Urban Luxe: Rihanna for Fenty
Model of the Year: Adut Akech
Accessories Designer of the Year: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta
British Emerging Talent — Menswear: Bethany Williams for Bethany Williams
British Emerging Talent —Womenswear: Rejina Pyo for Rejina Pyo