The British Fashion Awards 2015 (guest post)
My first thought when I looked down on the tables of glittering stars below me at the London Coliseum at the British Fashion Awards on Monday night (Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Victoria Beckham) was "I wonder if they ate." Having never had a seat at the invite-only tables on Floor 1 I couldn't help wondering whether Rita Ora eschewed carbs or Anna Wintour took her own diamond encrusted fork. And fashion being what it is rumoured to be…well the long sit down dinner seemed kind of pointless. At that point I was also very hungry, with only the contents of my goody bag to soak up the free champagne.
I have to say that, even accounting for my drinking on an empty stomach, it was a heady affair - Lady Gaga took Tom Ford's Red Carpet award with a well mannered acceptance speech and JW Anderson was charmingly shocked to pick up double gongs for Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year. Eddy and Patsy (Abfab!) were resurrected to present Stella McCartney with her Brand of the Year trophy and Naomi Campell (who demanded the a round of applause during her intro and was frankly terrifying even from a distance) handed over the Creative Campaign prize to Christopher Bailey of Burberry. And then there was Karl. I almost lost my composure completely when I saw the Lagerfeld ponytail just below.
Anna Wintour (American Vogue) presented Karl with his Outstanding Achievement Award and her introduction was as surprising as the Lagerfeld acceptance speech, which was delivered in soft lilting German without any of the pugnacious arrogance you might expect from someone who relentlessly wears sunglasses indoors. Wintour described a man obsessed with books – so much so that once a desk so overloaded with them went straight through the floor of ‘one of his houses.’ She talked about their modest bi annual dinner at the start of Paris Fashion Week and Karl’s love for his cat Choupette (Wintour’s reincarnation of choice, should that be an option, she said). Then Lagerfeld made a sweet and rambling speech sounding about as far as you could get from the square jawed fat shamer I had been expecting.
And that was kind of the theme of the night for me. Bar the models, who fully lived up to the air kissy narcissism, being inside the awards made some of the most famous people in fashion seem down to earth, humble and really rather nice. Stella McCartney made a big point of thanking her team for giving her the freedom to be a working mother and recognising that she was lucky – rather than entitled - to have what she did. Alessandro Michele - who has reinvented Gucci - was endearingly nervous and Mary Katrantzou - surely one of the most innovative designers of recent years - was keener to talk about her application for British Citizenship when she won New Establishment Designer.
Elevated up a floor, just above (and out of reach of) the epicentre of fashion folk - where we were - there were plenty of comically haughty looks and a hilarious moment of fury over matching dresses. Perhaps there was even a diva tantrum or two. Many of the crowd were playing to the widely held idea of ‘fashun’ as superficial, bitchy and anorexia inducing. But it was a surprise - and a comfort – to see that at the heart of the fashion industry down below it appeared (mostly) about talent, authenticity and well, being yourself. And I didn't think that would be my take away from the evening.
Alex Blackmore (@AlexPBlackmore)