In London, Empowerment and Emotion at the Fashion Awards
And, in a 14-model tribute to Azzedine Alaïa, the legendary designer who died last month in Paris at 82, Naomi Campbell said, “I would never have become the woman I am today without him.”
Ms. Campbell recalled how Mr. Alaïa had not only “fed, clothed and watered” her in the early days of her career, but had also stepped in to defend her in a street attack outside his shop in 2012. “Papa was a protector and a teacher, a seeker and defender,” she said.
Yasmin Le Bon added, “If we wore Azzedine, we could do anything.”
And so it went, with an emphasis on female empowerment and achievement. Stella McCartney was given a Special Recognition Award for Innovation. The makeup artist Pat McGrath radiated delight (and nerves) as she accepted the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator. And Donatella Versace, in a spectacular diamante-encrusted bustier gown with giant panniers, was named Fashion Icon, 20 years after she assumed control of her brother Gianni’s fashion empire following his murder.
Still, men scooped many of the blockbuster prizes of the night. Jonathan Anderson was the only name to go home with two awards; Accessories Designer of the Year for his work at the Spanish house Loewe and British Designer of the Year in women’s wear for his own line. Charles Jeffrey, in full makeup, wept as he accepted the British Emerging Talent in men’s wear award from John Galliano, the man Mr. Jeffrey called his “idol.” And Raf Simons won the Designer of the Year award for his work at Calvin Klein, five months after receiving the same accolade at the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York. He started his speech with two expletives and talked through tears.
He wasn’t the only emotional one. Even Anna Wintour’s voice wavered as she presented the Outstanding Contribution to British Fashion Award to Christopher Bailey, the departing creative director of Burberry, speaking of “a quiet bravery” that Mr. Bailey had called upon to construct his empire.
“I am sad to see him take his bow, but happy that he will have the time to see his children take bows of their own,” she said.
Then there was one final goodbye: to Natalie Massenet, the longtime chairwoman of the British Fashion Council, who is leaving the position at the end of the year. A troupe from the London Gay Men’s Chorus, all wearing Katharine Hamnett T-shirts emblazoned with “Choose Love,” belted out a song as glitter cannons spurted gold sequins.
What was the song?
“Freedom,” by the ’80s pop group Wham, of course.