On Monday night, the Royal Albert Hall in London held the 2023 British Fashion Council Awards, sponsored by jewelry brand Pandora. The annual ceremony is dedicated to celebrating “leaders of change,” and to putting forth a next generation of creative talent in Britain. This year’s ceremony was one of touching milestones: Edward Enninful won the Trailblazer Award for editing British Vogue, as he moves into a global creative role at Condé Nast; Sarah Burton won a Special Recognition Award for her impact at McQueen, which after 26 years, is coming to a close; and Sam Smith paid tribute to the late Vivienne Westwood with a performance of “Unholy.”
Everyone from Anne Hathaway, fashion icon Daphne Guinness, Heartstopper heartthrob Kit Connor, Saltburn star Archie Madekwe, to TikTok’s “Tube Girl” Sabrina Bahsoon—who took her famed video 10 times over—graced the red carpet. (As it was pouring rain, there were as many umbrellas as celebrities; Ted Lasso’s Phil Dunster graciously sheltered this reporter.)
Amal Clooney teed up Charlotte Tilbury—whose mother’s advice to avoid overusing the word “darling” in her acceptance speech she charmingly failed to comply with; Mr. Valentino was introduced by Gwyneth; and Lena Dunham, Dan Levy, Precious Lee, Josh O’Connor, Stormzy, Jodie Comer, Ib Kamara, and Chioma Nnadi all took turns on stage. Maximilian Davis, for Ferragamo, and Martine Rose took British Designers of the Year. New York native Conner Ives won the BFC Foundation Designer. New Establishment Awards went to British-Jamaican designer Bianca Saunders, whose gender-defying tailoring drew the attention of the CEO of Balenciaga, and to Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena, the Bulgarian-American and British (respectively) duo who created the cult-status carabiner skirts. Designer of the Year went to Jonathan Anderson, the man behind LOEWE and JW Anderson.
Pamela Anderson, a brand ambassador for Pandora, presented the award for Leader of Change to I May Destroy You and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Michaela Coel, who was there with her (new!) boyfriend Spencer Hewett, a red carpet hard launch confirmed by the couple on social media.
Coel is “using her art to tell stories and to create conversations around a difficult subject where so many things are taboo,” Anderson told Vanity Fair. “She’s very brave, very outspoken, very authentic and honest, and I admire all those qualities.”
Anderson sat down with Vanity Fair at the Lanesborough Hotel ahead of the event to speak more on her partnership with the event’s sponsor. Activism in sustainability, animal rights, and climate change have always been core causes for Anderson, which is why she aligns with Pandora’s use of recycled materials and lab-grown diamonds. Anderson also had a close relationship with Westwood. “We both really resonated with environmental charities and environmental action. Climate Revolution. That was her cause,”Anderson said, adding, “if you were loved by Vivienne Westwood, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”
And the ceremony ultimately offered hope for the future. Enninful, dressed in Phoebe Philo’s first-ever custom menswear look, closed the night with “Fear nothing. Fear no one. Believe in yourself, and do things your way. I can’t wait to see what you bring into our wonderful world.”
An extravagant after-party celebrating Edward Enninful, hosted at Natasha Poonawalla’s estate, capped off the night. The party opened up into a gilded gold room with a buffet that felt like a scene out of Saltburn. Karen Elson covered Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and Rita Ora, wearing a scarily realistic chrome spiked spine, also performed, while the fashion world reigned in a night of celebration.