At the London Fashion Awards, Mourning and Celebration

It was bitterly cold in London on the night of the Fashion Awards, Britain’s most glamorous annual style event, and on the red carpet, model Jordan Dunn snuggled into makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury for warmth. “Have you seen Maria Sharapova?” a producer barked, clipboard in hand. “Where’s Sharapova?”

Moments later, she arrived in a dress made from recycled water bottles, a collaboration between Iris van Herpen and Evian.

Inside, Rick Owens, slim in black, posed with the model Adriana Lima, in deep white. Tommy Hilfiger, who attended to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award, sat close to Kris Jenner, wearing a satin scarf in the red, navy and white colors of the Mr. Hilfiger.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in a Boss suit, sat between Anna Wintour and Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue and the European editor-in-chief of Condé Nast. “Oh my God, that’s John!” said the designer Henry Holland, pointing to John Galliano, to Mrs. Wintour’s right. Next to Mr. Enninful sat the musician Dua Lipa, in gloomy black.

“I love Dua Lipa. She’s the best Londoner – don’t tell Adele,” Mr Khan said, “‘Future nostalgia’ has helped me through the pandemic.” He felt cheerful. “This shows London is back,” he said, gesturing to the crowd of sequins, ruffles and tuxedos.

The cheers have a frenetic atmosphere; the atmosphere of one last party, one last fire, with a terrifying mania beneath the fun. A reflection on both the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant and the possibility of a new shutdown, as well as the news received the day before the event that the designer Virgil Abloh had passed away at the age of 41. He was a persistent presence in the room, with almost every winner paying tribute to him.

“Virgil told me he didn’t go to high school a day without wearing my clothes,” Tommy Hilfiger said in his speech, just after a mini runway show of models lip-syncing and parading to hits like “Satisfaction” from the Rolling Stones and Naughty by Nature’s “OPP”

Actor Idris Elba read Maya Angelou’s poem “When Great Trees Fall” in honor of Mr. abloh. Later Mr. Enninful for a quote from the designer from a manifesto handed out at Mr. Abloh in the spring of 2021 for Louis Vuitton: “’As a black man in a French luxury home, I am well aware of my responsibilities. Rather than preach about it, I hope to lead by example and open the door for future generations. I believe in making my mark with poise, style and grace.’”

The words offered a rare moment of self-effacement on an evening rich in attitudes twisted and twisted, uniting not only – as you might expect – the great and good of the fashion industry, but also often disparate characters who make even the strangest dinner party. dream could not conjure up: actress Demi Moore, striding arm and arm with Olympic diver Tom Daley to present the Designer of the Year award to Kim Jones; football player Patrice Evra presenting an award to former GQ editor Dylan Jones for Culture Commentary; and Kylie Minogue, who performs a special rendition of her hit “Slow” in tailored Richard Quinn, while surrounded by dancers in full-blown floral bodysuits covering the face (the only ones in attendance, save servers, who were masked).

The evening’s host, Billy Porter, used humor to break the pomposity, welcoming “old, young and old who have made their faces young.” Between several outfit changes, he joked: “I really didn’t think I’d make it, but luckily I got a job as a truck driver and they let me in” – a nod to the problems with the UK supply chain and the ramifications of Brexit, another of fashion’s many headaches.

The award categories, which in the past were simple and to the point (Best Women’s Clothing Designer, Best Men’s Clothing Designer, Best Model), had expanded to include looser and more grandiose themes, including “Leaders of Change,” an award given to 15 industry figures, in three different categories: “Creativity”, “Environment” and “People”.

An absentee Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, was the winner of the Trailblazer Award, presented on his behalf and accepted by activist Sinead Burke, in pink feathers.

“I’m physically disabled, I have dwarfism,” she said when introducing herself, noting that the award was dedicated to those who “move hearts and minds.” She praised Gucci for his work in support of LGBTQ and disability rights. Michele, she said, has created a corner of the world “where people feel safe to be themselves.”

Other winners included newcomer Nensi Dojaka, who received the BFC Foundation Award, stylist Ib Kamara (also absent), who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator, and Simone Rocha, who won Best Independent British. Brand and whose label recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The pandemic has been tough, she said, especially for those without a large group behind them and with a small, young team.

“It has humiliated a lot of people on many different levels. It’s humanized the industry and took a bit of the shine and shine,” she said. “Everyone who shows up, I respect them. Anyone who managed to keep going.”

Later, the dancer and internet phenomenon moonwalked and slid through the great hall. His performance was apparently part of honoring Chanel for his contribution to art and culture. “Chanel: Creating the Conditions for Artists to Dare,” announced the giant screens behind Lil Buck, before being, inexplicably, replaced by a quote often attributed to Mother Teresa.

“I alone can’t change the world, but I can throw a stone over the water to create a lot of ripples,” it read, although most of the guests seemed to be mainly focused on the chic footwork (including footwear). Even Mrs. Wintour stretched her neck to watch the slides and twists. When Lil Buck was done, she broke into one of her few hits of the night.

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