Every year, the British Fashion Council’s annual awards ceremony goes up a level in octane. It gets glossier, brassier, more confident. Apart from its inaugural event in October of 1989, where Princess Diana rocked up in a (now iconic) Catherine Walker Elvis-esque bolero gown, last night’s affair was the shiniest in years. Before, it was an endearing hodgepodge of East End designers and Central Saint Martins students, with dresses that had just come off the sewing machines, feathers and threads askew. To be fair, there were always the McQueens, Westwoods, and Zandra Rhodes around, but there was also a very homey, somewhat provincial feel to the awards, which lent the evening a sort of authenticity. But last night, at the ultra regal, candlelit Royal Albert Hall (even the venue has had an upgrade), well, it was very slick. Kate! Karlie! Gaga! Naomi! Donatella! Wow. Dressed in Oscar-worthy attire, this was a different level altogether. Progress, perhaps, but it did make many sentimental for the good old days.
The newfound sophistication is one change. The other of course, is that they are not the British Fashion Awards anymore. They are now simply the Fashion Awards—a sage decision for a switch in moniker by way of the BFC and its chair, the American-born Natalie Massenet. After all, in our Brexit age, national identifiers are causing an uproar—and don’t you know, darlings, division is so out of fashion. Fashion is truly international now, and to limit it just to the Brits seems such a jaundiced idea. Although the BFC claims the name change wasn’t due to politics.