Designers lauded at London Fashion Awards Bianca Saunders

LONDON. – More than 3 000 guests including Hollywood stars Anne Hathaway and Gwyneth Paltrow turned out for the 2023 Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Monday to celebrate one of the biggest nights in fashion.

While the event serves as the main fundraiser for the British Fashion Council, a non-profit that promotes the British fashion industry internationally, it is also a chance to celebrate the industrythat employs nearly 900,000 people and contributes more than £21bn to the UK economy.

One of the first winners of the night was the British designer Sarah Burton, who received a special recognition award. In September Burton announced she was stepping down from her position as creative director of Alexander McQueen. 

During her 27-year tenure she most famously created the Princess of Wales’s wedding dress. Accepting her award, she paid tribute to the late Lee Alexander McQueen, describing him as “the greatest designer of our generation”.

The Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson scooped the designer of the year award, honouring his work at both his own label, JW Anderson, and his role as creative director of the Spanish fashion house Loewe.

Valentino Garavani, the founder of Valentino, was honoured with an outstanding achievement award. Known for his exquisite haute couture gowns, Garavani was the go-to designer for Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis throughout the 60s. A striking crimson shade he created simply became known as “Valentino red”.

The 91-year-old, who is now retired, sold the brand in 1998 for $300m (£237m) to the Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli. It is now controlled by the Qatari group Mayhoola and last July Kering acquired a 30% in Valentino for €1.7bn (£1.5bn).

The late British designer Joe Casely-Hayford was also honoured with a posthumous special recognition award. Casely-Hayford, who died in 2019, was known for his sleek tailoring that fused tradition with modern streetwear influences. His suits were worn by The Clash, Bono, Drake and Gordon Brown, and made him one of the first black British designers to draw international acclaim, although his talent is arguably only now being fully recognised.

Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council, described Casely-Hayford as “one of the most talented and groundbreaking designers of our time”.

“He catapulted London’s reputation as a fashion and cultural hub on a global stage, and paved the way for generations of designers,” she said. The brand Casely-Hayford is now helmed by his son Charlie who alongside his sister Alice accepted the award.

Sarah Mower, a British fashion journalist and critic for US Vogue, was presented with a special recognition award for championing young designer talent. Mower has played a significant role in spotlighting the profile of young designers in Britain including Christopher Kane, Erdem and Anderson. Earlier this year, she guest curated Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion at the Design Museum in London, which explores how London became one of the major four fashion capitals.

The outgoing editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, was honoured with a trailblazer award. Enninful, who is stepping down from his editorial position in March, will be succeeded by former editor of the US edition’s website, Chioma Nnadi.

Nnadi presented the British womenswear designer of the year award to Maximilian Davis, the creative director of the Italian house Ferragamo, while the British menswear designer of the year accolade went to Martine Rose for the eponymous label she started in London in 2007.

Other recipients on the night included the singer Sam Smith, who took home the cultural innovator award, the British-Ghanaian actor and director Michaela Coel, who was presented with the Pandora leader of change award by Pamela Anderson, and Paloma Elsesser who became the first plus-size model to win model of the year.

Emerging talent was also championed. 

The British-Jamaican designer Bianca Saunders was presented with the new establishment in menswear award, recognising her cross-cultural approach to design. The London-based design duo Chopova Lowena who create pieces using deadstock materials and traditional craft techniques took home the new establishment womenswear award.

Elsewhere, Campbell Addy, a London-born photographer and director, won the Isabella Blow award for fashion creator. 

Previous winners include Showstudio’s Nick Knight and makeup artist Pat McGrath. Addy, who graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2016, has quickly become one of the fashion industry’s most in-demand photographers.

He has shot Beyoncé and FKA twigs and his work has become known for challenging conventional notions of beauty and voicing stories from black and queer communities. – The Guardian

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