Fashion Awards honour Bailey, Aboah, Anderson, Bizzarri and more

The Fashion Awards on Monday evening saw Natalie Massenet overseeing the London event for the last time as she prepares to step down as British Fashion Council Chairman.


Stella McCartney, Caroline Rush, Natalie Massenet, Nadja Swarovski, Christopher Bailey - British Fashion Council


And that simple fact meant her presence on the red carpet was every bit as newsworthy as the undeniably strong gathering of A-listers that included Selena Gomez, Jourdan Dunn, Alexa Chung, Suki Waterhouse, Erykah Badu, Hailey Baldwin, and yes, even Miss Piggy.

They got the paparazzi excited on the red carpet but on the main stage the focus was on recognising real achievement rather than mere photo appeal. And achievement was certainly high on the list for Christopher Bailey who received a surprise award ahead of his departure from Burberry. He was honoured for his outstanding contribution to British fashion in an award presented by US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. 

And nobody seemed to be arguing that he deserved it after helping turn Burberry into Britain’s pre-eminent luxury label, one that can not only compete with the European and US giants but that has also driven the conversation around issues such as digital and see now, buy now.

Meanwhile Raf Simons won the designer of the year title after making a major impact with his work at Calvin Klein in the past two seasons. And another US brand, Off-White, was recognised as Virgil Abloh’s baby was named top label for urban luxe after having really hit the mainstream this year.

Maria Grazia Chiuri walked away with the Swarovski award for positive change only days after one of her pieces for Dior was named Dress of the Year. The judges recognised her catwalk activism and discussion of feminist issues on the runway.

Another female influencer, Stella McCartney, who has been extremely vocal about sustainability in fashion, was given the first special recognition award for innovation, while Donatella Versace was honoured as a fashion icon. And the late Azzedine Alaïa was also recognised, not with a formal award, but with a tribute following his recent death.

Jonathan Anderson was a big winner on the night, named British designer of the year for his own JW Anderson label and also scooping the accessories prize for his work at Loewe, where he has shaken up the once-staid fashion luxury house.

And the Business leader title went to Marco Bizzarri. The man who has not only overseen a massive surge in revenues and profit at Gucci could also be credited with one of the most inspired hires ever. He named Alessandro Michele to the top creative post at the label nearly three years ago on the departure of Frida Giannini, taking the risk of promoting the still-relatively-unknown Michele and giving him just weeks to put together a menswear collection for the looming runway shows. The rest, as they say, is history.

Another headline maker was also crowned on Monday evening with Adwoa Aboah named model of the year. Aboah has been seen in more campaigns than ever and has graced an increasing number of covers this year, including Edward Enninful’s first British Vogue edition. She is the driving force behind feminist collective Gurls Talk and an icon for diversity in fashion, which makes her winning this title more significant than is usual for top model title winners.

Meanwhile Pat McGrath received the Isabella Blow award for fashion curator to top a year that has seen her already huge reputation going from strength to strength. The make-up artist-turned-entrepreneur has this year been named beauty editor-at-large by British vogue and has also launched the Pat McGrath Labs cosmetics collection.

And two rising stars took the emerging talent titles with Charles Jeffrey, named for menswear and Michael Halpern for womenswear.

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