Images courtesy of the British Fashion Council

Everything you need to know about last night’s Fashion Awards

From tributes to Virgil Abloh to the triumph of the metaverse, here’s what’s went down at the Royal Albert Hall.

by Mahoro Seward
30 November 2021, 2:31pm

Images courtesy of the British Fashion Council

After a two-year hiatus, last night saw the Fashion Awards make a long-awaited return to the Royal Albert Hall. As you’d expect of an event touted by some as London’s answer to the Met Gala, it was a bolshy red-carpet affair, one ritzy enough to tempt everyone from Kris Jenner to Kristen McMenamy, Dua Lipa to Paloma Elsesser to show up for the occasion.

Of course, there was much cause to celebrate – especially given that it was the first celebration of Britain’s fashion industry to take place at such a scale since the pandemic. However, last night’s proceedings were rightfully more sombre in tone than in previous years in light of the recent news of Virgil Abloh’s passing. As is only fitting for such a significant industry figure, the evening was punctuated by heartfelt speeches and tributes by hosts and awardees alike. In a poetic act of recognition, he was also acknowledged as one of 15 Leaders of Change in the award’s Creativity category – a category that honours “designers and brands who made a global impact in the past years through their creativity in design, campaigns, collaborations and firm business foundation as well as defined the shape of global fashion.”

That’s not all there is to know, though. Keen to hear what else went down at British fashion’s biggest night of the year? Well, read on.

The industry paid homage to Virgil Abloh

We know we’ve mentioned this, but it doesn’t bear understating. Just one night on from the loss of Virgil Abloh – one of fashion and pop culture’s greatest auteurs – close friends, collaborators and admirers took the chance to pay their respects. In addition to the BFC’s earlier-mentioned recognition of the once-in-a-generation creative, actor Idris Elba opened proceedings with a poignant reading of Maya Angelou’s poem “When Great Trees Fall”. This was followed by personal testimonies from Kim Jones, Ib Kamara, Edward Enninful, Tommy Hilfiger and more. In his speech, Tommy described Virgil as a true “Renaissance man”, while Kim chose to dedicate his award in memory of his longtime best friend.

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Nensi Dojaka SS22. Image courtesy of Nensi Dojaka

Kim Jones, Alessandro Michele and Nensi Dojaka won big

Among the big winners of the night were Kim Jones and Alessandro Michele, who each took home two gongs. Both were recognised alongside Virgil as Leaders of Change in the Creativity category, with Kim also picking up the Designer of the Year for his work at Dior and Fendi, and Alessandro winning the Trailblazer Award for the string of cultural moments he’s been behind this year – you know, like shutting down Hollywood Boulevard for Gucci’s latest show, and co-authoring the viral ‘Hacker Project’ alongside Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia. Other notable winners of the night were Nensi Dojaka, who took home the BFC Foundation Award just months after winning the LVMH Prize and staging her runway debut at LFW SS22; Simone Rocha, who picked up the Independent British Designer Award; and Tommy Hilfiger who was presented with the Outstanding Achievement Award by Law Roach and Kris Jenner. 

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Image courtesy of the British Fashion Council

Richard Quinn won the red carpet vote

He may not have taken home a gong last night, but if voting with your dress is a thing, then a surefire victor at this year’s awards was Richard. From Billy Porter and a gang of catsuit-clad interpretative dancers to Priyanka Chopra and Tommy Dorfman, turn in any direction on the red carpet and you’d find yourself face-to-face with the London couturier’s larger-than-life embroidered gowns. The real knockout moment, however, came when Kylie Minogue took the stage to perform her steamy 2003 hit “Slow” in a black floral jumpsuit – the gays and girlies in attendances were, needless to say, gooped, gagged, and then some.

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Image courtesy of the British Fashion Council

The red carpet looks were giving!

It wasn’t all about Mr Quinn, though. After the, uhm, questionable looks that littered the Met Gala catwalk recently, we are relieved to announce that the girls last night didn’t just understand the assignment – they passed with flying colours. From Mona Tougaard in Alaïa to Paloma Elsesser in 16Arlington – oh, and Dua Lipa and Rainbow Kennedy repping London designer du jour, Maximilian – our queens really came through!

Miss Jason raised a glass to Fashion East

Of course, you can’t celebrate the best of British fashion without raising a glass to one person in particular: Rainbow’s fabulous mama, Lulu Kennedy. The founder of Fashion East, her influence has shaped some of the most vital voices in fashion today – including a good number of the people who picked up prizes last night! Last year, the legendary talent incubator turned 20, though it didn’t get to celebrate its anniversary quite how it would’ve liked due to the pandemic. Even so, that only made it all the more touching to see London fashion’s favourite chosen family get its flowers last night, by way of a touching video introduced by none other than Miss Jason.

It was a mega moment for the metaverse

As you well know, there’s been a lot of talk about the metaverse and what it means for fashion’s future lately. If you’ve been tossing and turning wondering what this brave new world could look like, then look to last night’s series of URL interventions in an otherwise IRL event for a taste. For the first time in the award show’s history, a prize was awarded for metaverse design, presented to CSapphire by – wait for it – an avatar of Alessandro Michele generated by gaming site ROBLOX. Add to that the opportunity to ‘wear’ digital fashions on the red carpet, provided by the team at the London-based Institute of Digital Fashion, and it was clear that fashion’s computerised future is now!

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Kim Jones
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Billy Porter