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Nov 30, 2021
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Reborn Fashion Awards lives up to the hype, but has a sombre edge too

Nov 30, 2021

The British Fashion Council promised a new and different experience for The Fashion Awards 2021 on Monday evening and while a red carpet and succession of award winners were what we’ve come to expect from high-profile awards ceremonies, there was undeniably plenty that stood out about this first post-pandemic edition of the event.

Kim Jones received the Designer of the Year title from Tom Daley and Demi Moore - BFC

Its new sponsor TikTok; the categories for which some of the awards were won; Alessandro Michele as an avatar (more of that later); and the big entertainment focus all made the evening that bit different.

But it was also memorable for one very sad aspect with the event always going to be overshadowed by the news that had broken a day earlier of the death of Virgil Abloh.

Idris Elba opened the proceedings with a tribute to Abloh, who was coincidentally named as one of 15 “leaders of change” at the awards. The actor recited ‘When Great Trees Fall’ by Maya Angelou. The BFC’s CEO Caroline Rush and chair Stephanie Phair also praised him for being “a creative force of change, who throughout his career focused on inclusivity and philanthropy across fashion, art, music, design and architecture, making him one of the most influential designers of his generation”.


One new feature of the awards was the move away from gendered titles. That meant no womenswear and menswear titles, just a single Designer of the Year prize that was won by Kim Jones. However, in this case, he did neatly cover both genders as he designs menswear for Dior and womenswear for Fendi.

Meanwhile Simone Rocha won the independent British brand award, and LVMH prize-winner Nensi Dojaka took the BFC Foundation award.

The Special Recognition Award for Culture Commentary went to ex-GQ editor-in-chief Dylan Jones, while editor-in-chief of Dazed magazine Ib Kamara won the Isabella Blow award for fashion creator. 

Tommy Hilfiger accepted the outstanding achievement award, and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele took home the trailblazer title “for reversing the fortunes of the legendary Italian label”. 

Billy Porter was the host for the evening - BFC


Hosted by actor, singer, director, composer, and playwright Billy Porter, the event aimed to celebrate “fashion’s role at the intersection of culture while recognising the exceptional individuals whose imagination and creativity have broken new ground in fashion globally over the past 12 months, and brands and businesses that have transformed the possibilities of fashion today”.

As well as Virgil Abloh, it named another 14 leaders of change in three separate categories. Under the Creativity category, Alessandro Michele and Kim Jones were again on the list, along with Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, and Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson and Loewe.

Under the Environment banner, the honourees were Bethany Williams, Gabriela Hearst for Chloé as well as for her eponymous label, Phoebe English, Priya Ahluwalia and Stella McCartney.

And under the People title (recognising those who’ve “led change by encouraging equal, diverse, empowered workforces from head office to supply chain and shop floor”), the winners were British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, Harris Reed, Kenya Hunt, Samuel Ross and Telfar Clemens.


The BFC also announced a brand new category with the first-ever Fashion Award for Metaverse Design in a link with Roblox. Its first winner was cSapphire. The new award recognises a digital designer who “pushes the boundaries and showcases excellence in digital fashion design within the metaverse”. 

Gucci's Alessandro Michele appeared as a Roblox avatar - BFC

Five digital fashion creators from the Roblox community were shortlisted by its developers and creators. And Gucci’s Alessandro Michele made an appearance as an avatar to present the prize in The Fashion Awards experience on Roblox.  

To celebrate the launch of the award, the BFC created an immersive experience on Roblox that’s available on the platform until December 7.

The evening also included a number of Special Celebrations “that showcased fashion’s role in culture at its best”. Chanel was recognised for its  pioneering commitment to the arts and hosted a performance by dancer, actor and model Lil Buck.

There was a tribute to Fashion East, and its talent and community from the past 20 years. And another tribute was paid to Kylie Minogue who performed Slow x Love To Love You Baby, The Infinite Disco version.

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