Gallery: British Fashion Awards 2019

If Mika played at the Fashion Awards, who would wear his clothes? The award-winner’s hits were as subdued as he was: Teed Up, Home for Lunch, Wild of Love and “Look Who’s Laughing”. At the end of an emotional performance, brand ambassador Rihanna appeared on stage in tuxedo. She gave out the only award based on public votes, which went to Sir Stuart Rose, who was grand, beaming and perched on his own ivory stilettos. But more interesting was Rihanna’s ensemble, and what she told us about the music industry’s poise, vision and self-awareness.

Eliza Doolittle won the Perrier Cup and held back tears as she took the stage. “I can’t even speak right now, it’s just so much shit going on,” she said, leaning on a little bar stool. “I just want to say thank you to all the people who pick up the pieces after the storm.” It was a light-hearted tribute to a vicious industry that few ever actually leave. “I want to say thank you to all the girls in America who came to Paris and wrote angry, angry songs for the past 10 years,” she said. It’s also what the Model of the Year, Bella Hadid, told the room about the challenges of doing her job: “I’m from Paris and now that I’m American, I have to represent London fashion week every season,” she said. “This is the scariest thing because it’s about being perfect every time I do a show, and forgetting the people who came to watch you, when you’re trying to be perfect. It’s hard.”

With the exception of Gigi Hadid and her arch-nemesis Kendall Jenner, the leading models took a back seat at the awards. Heidi Klum walked the red carpet, as did Sienna Miller, Elizabeth Hurley and Naomi Campbell. When Campbell couldn’t get in at the last minute, she was dressed in her love of waifish silhouettes. Models who rose up the fashion hierarchy, like Lara Stone, who won the Outstanding Achievement Award, and Kate Moss, who was named British Style Icon, had little to offer in terms of style. If I were a judge, the winner of British Model of the Year would not have been announced in a cool white Givenchy dress by Riccardo Tisci, nor would a winner have thanked Karl Lagerfeld or Franca Sozzani. Instead, models made the best of what they had to offer: Karlie Kloss wore a futuristic dress by Marni and the short-skirted wildcard of the evening, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, opted for a sexy jumpsuit, a season staple. Models who were successful in turning the industry on its head, such as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, stuck close to home. These awards are usually full of designers walking the red carpet, ready to start the next season; today, the most prominent trendmakers were female models who did their own thing, who combined elegance with street style.

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