What really happens at the British Fashion Awards

By Carolyn Asome, deputy fashion editor at The Times newspaper.

As a master class in what to wear to the Christmas party, the annual British Fashion Awards aka the Fashion Oscars, held last night at London’s Coliseum and attended by Courtney Love, Samantha Cameron and Kate Moss remains unrivalled. If you haven’t considered back-baring (Victoria Beckham), a front-split skirt (Cara Delevingne) or pale pink (Natalie Massenet), it’s time to do so sharp-ish. It’s also a lesson in what the most stylish parties up and down the country are serving up for grub: salmon and ceviche are in, prawn cocktail (however ironic) is out.

Supermodels Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Poppy Delevingne and sister and winner of the Model of the Year award, Cara Delevingne at the British Fashion Awards in London's Coliseum.

Shavings of black truffle on Mac’n’Cheese was the highpoint but arrived in such minaudiere-sized Le Creuset pots it’s little wonder that anyone thinks fashion folk don’t eat. Speeches are rarely the highlight of an evening but last night’s proved more entertaining than usual. Emotion seemed to overwhelm everyone from Victoria Beckham accepting her Best Brand award (and looking sensational in a monochrome number which payed a homage of sorts to a Sacai pleated skirt and hair that looked as if it had been scrunched up into bun), who broke down thanking her parents for “just loving me so unconditionally,” to Cara Delevingne who was just as overcome when her sister, Poppy handed over her award.

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She nervously gushed and thanked everyone she could think of. How to accept an award with dignity and humility? Less is more is possibly a maxim that everyone could stick to. Anna Laub, founder of eyewear and swimwear label Prism, winner of the Emerging Accessory Designer award and six-months pregnant, did so gracefully. So too, did Justin Thornton at Preen, who along with co-designer Thea Bregazzi, won the Establishment Designer award. Erdem Moralioglu, winner of the Womenswear Designer award, said he had been taking notes from the Evening Standard Theatre awards held the previous night and tried to deliver his with some comic timing, thanking his Dad for accepting that “he was never going to be the boy that played hockey but made dresses for his sister’s Barbies instead.” The most anticipated speaker however was undoubtedly John Galliano.

karliekloss

Had he been tempted to do that legendary catwalk strut as he took to the stage? Was this the signal that he had been accepted back into the fashion fold? He was there to present an outstanding achievement award to Anna Wintour, editor in chief of American Vogue, credited with nurturing him in the 1990s when he was “eating baked beans over a Bunsen burner to survive.” In accents that took in several continents, reflective perhaps of his busy, peripatetic life, he praised the many philanthropic causes that Wintour champions and also thanked her for her support. “She has reached out to me through all my highs and lows,“ he told a captivated audience. “She was supportive when I was an outcast. I wouldn’t have been here if it hadn’t been for her.”

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By Carolyn Asome