is the big winner in London
Text Carlo Mazzoni
The British Fashion Awards were held in London in partnership with Swarovski. The budget for the event ended in multiple zeros, proof that having a partner on a par with Swarovski is worth much more than mere moral support. The ceremony would love to drop the British adjective in exchange for enhanced prestige but, for now, it is firmly an English fixture (and with Mayfair and South Kensington closed off, it can hardly be considered a second-class affair)
Guests were asked not to wear fur, whether real or fake. There is no end in sight to the controversy about furs – be it fur as part of the food chain or yet another smackering of plastic for the world. Swarovski has become a business focused firmly on the future of industrial production, on the clean work done by companies, and on respecting manual labor and the workforce. Nadja Swarovski is interested in pursuing a foray into science and society that has been gradually emerging in recent years and is now becoming more and more specific – going beyond the concept of a brand that the vast majority (especially in Italy) still associates with accessible jewelry sold on the high-street.
The show opened with a quip about Dolce & Gabbana in China – it was uttered hastily and even I, your author, didn’t manage to catch it: at an event hankering to promote its image, such an exposé would have attracted more attention. Robert Pattinson looked shy and somewhat awkward as he tried to move out of the spotlight focusing on Kim Jones thanking Pietro Beccari, CEO at Dior. Now it was the turn of Marco Bizzarri to get up: the Commander – the choice of word is not casual – of Gucci currently basking in the risk borne by creativity that shuns any commercial input and, by doing so, wins at a commercial level.
The pace of the show never really picked up, firstly because creativity in design is a harbinger of restraint rather than of stage-show nonchalance, and secondly because the floor at the Royal Albert Hall was dotted with tables forcing you to zigzag your way up to the steps to get on stage. Carine Roitfeld picked up the award for Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, winner for the accessories – with a clear touch of French snobbery when explaining the reason for his absence, some kind of family obligation muttered in a command of English that was astonishing in its failings. Richard Quinn was announced as the winner, just after it was mentioned on stage how the most important person in England was at his show last season, seated on the front row next to the Queen (the audience did not find this funny).
Rosamund Pike introduced an unscheduled surprise – enter Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to an ovation louder than any applause received by the designers (corroborating the British perception as mentioned above). The Duchess held her hands protectively over her Givenchy-clad bump – and Clara Wright Keller took home the award for Givenchy. Enter Lana Del Rey dressed in Gucci and Alessandro Michele won for Gucci. Model of the year was Kaia Gerber, even if the applause was louder when the name of Adwoa Aboah was announced. Kaia thanked her mum sitting in the audience twice: at the beginning and end of her brief speech, interspersed by cleverly studied moves and poses, wearing theatre togs instead of a dress. Some truly memorable photos by Mert & Marcus were projected before the best photographer award was announced by Kate Moss and the accent of Penelope Cruz.
Then, your author was overcome with pride for Miuccia Prada, whose personality is a confirmation of culture in fashion, with that air of sophistication that still gives fashion the potential value of sociological research and fashion photography a pictorial code – so distant from the blogging void that only now, in a climate of general panic out of sync, Prada seems to be actively chasing. Milady closed her address by thanking everyone for the affection shown her, with the intention of returning it, of giving it back, she said. The last award was Designer of the Year – and up got Pier Paolo Piccioli for Valentino (unsurprisingly: he was the only big designer still in his seat by this time). His speech was the smoothest, as was his pose – the camera coming to his aid on the screen by offering him an angle worthy of a movie star – his thanks went to Valentino and Giammetti, Stefano Sassi and his family – so all standard stuff up to then. But then his voice trembled just a little, and he took a pause – before dedicating his award to Franca Sozzani, as if Franca were there next to him in that long pink dress she wore on her last public appearance two years ago, when we received her last caress to the words: you have to take a risk.
Tags: british fashion awards