Another Year Another Faux British Fashion Awards ‘Sham’

Nominees for the 2017 Fashion Awards were “chosen from hundreds of international names and they represent the most creative talent and innovative businesses of the year,” BFC chairman Natalie Massenet told press upon unveiling the nominees back in October. This statement, of course, is utter fantasy as the winners below will show.

The award ceremony was an emotionally charged celebration as the fashion’s “finest” paid homage to industry veterans of the past and the ‘bright young things’ of the future. Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri acknowledged the late Franca Sozzani, while Naomi Campbell and a host of models presented a ‘powerful’ united message -holding hands?- that while Azzedine Alaïa might have passed away, his legacy will live on.

This business of awards can get confusing even at the most straight-forward events where all accolades of the nominees are presented to the public before announcing the winner. But, as you most likely noticed, most awards are somewhat subjective and utterly marred by political correctness.

So, in order to help our readers to see the ‘real value’ -cough- of The Fashion Awards and navigate through achievements of winners, we list the winners and their ‘achievements’ in the realm of fashion over the past year.

Model of the Year – Adwoa Aboah

  • This moderately talented muse admits to having tried almost every drug – spliffs soon changed to ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine.
  • She twice overdosed following a stint in rehab — the second time a deliberate attempt to take her own life.
  • Appeared on the cover of American Vogue, and was named GQ Woman of the Year 2017 for reasons yet unknown.
  • Walked for Chanel, Dior, and Burberry.
  • Denies that privileged upbringing in West London with parents who still work in the fashion industry had anything to do with her success.
  • Her continuing battle with depression and bipolar syndrome culminated in a suicide attempt on October 3, 2015.
  • Publicly admitted having an abortion earlier this year.
  • Tried her hand at acting by appearing in this year’s sci-fi action film Ghost.
  • Adwoa is also chums with new Vogue editor Edward Enninful. She has been given the role of contributing editor – with zero experience – for the magazine and a front cover.
  • Her ‘applauded’ ‘empowering’ website Gurls Talk attracts 298 unique users each day.

Whilst Adwoa’s mental health is a genuine cause of concern and Depression and Bipolar Disorder are terrible illnesses, the awards, we understand, are for achievements in the fashion industry only. There are many far more talented models that have achieved ten times more but fail to win as the ‘political message’ isn’t right or enough.

Outstanding Contribution to British Fashion Award – Christopher Bailey

  • Bailey was credited with helping transform Burberry from a small UK company into a global fashion brand.
  • Investors initially backed Bailey in his dual role, but anxiety over his leadership began to grow after flagging sales, especially in key markets such as China and the Middle East.
  • There were also protests against his pay packet, which rose from £1.9m to £3.5m in 2016, while he also received £10.5m in shares in July.
  • He stepped down as Burberry CEO in July 2017.
  • In October 2017 announced he is to part Burberry in March 2018.

One wonders if British Fashion Council were trying to say something.

British Designer of the Year – Menswear – Craig Green for Craig Green

  • 2014 Green won the British Fashion Award for Emerging Menswear Designer
  • 2016 British menswear designer of the year at the Fashion Awards in London.
  • Debuted his latest collection via MR PORTER in 2017.
  • Created over 200 pieces for the film Alien: Covenant released in 2017.

Craig who? Not to take anything away from Craig, he has some talent for sure. But, quite frankly, his collections are rather samey and we can’t see any fascinating designs worth the award second year running.

British Designer of the Year – Womenswear – Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson

Unless you live under the rock, you definitely heard of the IT boy of the moment.

  • British Fashion Awards for ‘Emerging Talent, Ready-to-Wear’ (2012).
  • The New Establishment Award’ (2013) The British Fashion Awards.
  • Menswear Designer of the Year’ (2014) The British Fashion Awards.
  • Won both men’s and women’s brand of the year at the British Fashion Awards in 2015.
  • Following the investment from LVMH (2013) Jonathan Anderson was also appointed Creative
  • Director of Loewe, and works on both brands in tandem.
  • In 2017 released his first very successful collection for Uniqlo.

And the awards just keep coming!

Accessories Designer of the Year – Jonathan Anderson for Loewe

As above

Swarovski Award For Positive Change – Maria Grazia Chiuri

  • The award is given for the 2nd year and is said to “celebrate the characters who have played a key role in society and fully represents Swarovski’s intention for a more sustainable future.”
  • Maria Grazia made her name while working for Valentino.
  • Joined Dior as Creative Director in 2016. Fashion critic Cathy Horyn panned Fall 2017 collection by Maria Grazia saying that she ‘doesn’t pull the weight’. Horyn was, of course, panned herself for daring to say any such thing.
  • A quick Google search reveals Maria Grazia Chiuri is more famous for her ‘Feminist activism’ than for her fashion. So you get the picture.
  • In 2017 she presented 2nd and 3rd ready-to-wear collections at Dior featuring navy blue oversized overalls (SS18) and paying subtle tribute to political uniform of Che Guevara, Castro, Black Panther Party, ETA and Provisional IRA among others with the abundance of berets and cross body bags with statement thick belts reminiscent of bullet belts worn by guerillas (AW17).

Urban Luxe Brand – Off White

Naomi Campbell bias toward her employer Off White

Naomi Campbell bias toward her employer Off White

  • Founded by DJ and fashion designer Virgil Abloh in 2012.
  • Opened its first location and flagship store in Hong Kong.
  • Employed Vogue Contributor Naomi Campbell to close his SS18 collection in Paris.
  • Named “Our future” by new Vogue Contributor Naomi Campbell – no vested interests here, surely.
  • Collaborated with IKEA in 2017.

Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator – Pat McGrath MBE

  • Named most influential make-up artist in the world by Vogue magazine, which of course is utter nonsense. There’s is NO ‘most influential makeup artist in the world’.
  • Owns own makeup brand.
  • In 2017 Pat McGrath has been appointed as beauty editor-at-large by her chum stylist-become-editor of Vogue Edward Enninfull.

Worryingly, this is the third award to a person with close ties to Vogue and, in particular, to Enninful & Co. All those who celebrated new editor’s intent to end elitism in Vogue – AKA “Posh Girl exodus” – might be surprised to learn that the only thing that changed is the skin colour of the so-called “elite”.

To illustrate just how cozy Vogue’s ties to the British Fashion Council are, one must look no further than the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund.

The BFC / Vogue Designer Fashion Fund (The Fund) was launched by BFC Chairman Harold Tillman in September 2008 as part of the BFC’s 25th-anniversary celebrations. The Fund is supported by Burberry, Harrods,, Label, Paul Smith, Rodial, Topshop, and Vogue.

Alexandra Schulman, previous Vogue Editor was heavily involved in the initiative and is often quoted from the winners’ announcements and other events surrounding the initiative. Former stylist Enninfull took over the editorial reins and has since been heavily involved in promoting the BFC initiative. He hit the headlines having attended the BFC/Vogue cocktail party back in September.

The financing structure of the prize is not disclosed nor is known how much every supporter brings to the table. It is however known that the total fund prize is £200,000, according to BFC website.

Count in free publicity the BFC gets on the pages of Vogue and you can get a gist of who is pulling the strings. And with new Vogue headlines like ‘New Order. A trailblazing generation of black military servicewomen is embracing the natural hair movement’ and slammed by black readers themselves as patronising ‘Black girls all over the world can finally look at the royal family and see someone like them’ one can tell how the face of The Fashion Awards will change in years to come.

British Emerging Talent – Womenswear – Michael Halpern for Halpern

  • A New Yorker by birth, first collection presented in 2017 – SS18
  • Clothes are made in Leicester, England

British Emerging Talent – Menswear – Charles Jeffrey for Charles Jeffrey Loverboy

  • Scottish Born designer, illustrator
  • Graduated from MA Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins in 2015

Business Leader – Marco Bizzarri for Gucci

  • President and CEO of Gucci since January 2015.
  • He previously was the CEO of Stella McCartney and Bottega Veneta
  • Claimed his secret of success is a “shadow committee” of millennials under 30.
  • Q1 figures: Gucci record revenue growth of 51.4 percent for the three months, with a strong performance from all regions and product categories.

Italian police have raided the offices of fashion giant Gucci over suspected tax evasion, the company confirmed on the day of the awards. The global fashion house is accused of declaring several years’ worth of Italian sales in Switzerland, thereby saving around 1.3 billion euros (£1.14bn) in domestic tax. A practice, Marco Bizzarri most certainly was aware of; or maybe we should credit ‘the shadow committee of millennials under 30’ for an elaborate tax avoidance scheme?

Special Recognition Award For Innovation – Stella McCartney

  • 2004, 2009 Glamour Awards – Best Designer.
  • Vogue Designer of the Year award in 2000.
  • Elle Style Award for Best Designer of the Year Award (2007, London), Best Designer of the Year at the British Style Awards (2007, London), Best Designer of The Year at the Spanish Elle Awards (2008, Barcelona), the Green Designer of the Year at the ACE Awards (2008, New York) and in 2009 she was honoured by the NRDC, featured in the Time 100 and recognised as a Glamour magazine Woman of the Year. In November 2011 she was presented with the Red Carpet Award by the British Fashion Council.
  • She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to fashion.
  • Has always refused to use leather in her work.
  • Her stance has led her to find innovative alternatives to the material.
  • Known for making synthetic bags trendy and successfully selling them from £600 and above.

Style Icon – Donatella Versace

  • Italian fashion designer and current vice president of the Versace Group.
  • Took over Versace Group reigns after her brother Gianni Versace died.
  • Celebrity in her own right who has a history of provocative style.
  • She is unapologetically a maximalist, often favoring plunging necklines and bold prints both in her personal wardrobe and on the runway.

Designer of the Year – Raf Simons

  • In April 2012 he was announced as the creative director at Christian Dior. On October 22, 2015, he resigned from Christian Dior.
  • Previously worked at Jil Sander
  • Owner of Raf Simons
  • In 2016 joined Calvin Klein and presented his first collection in Feb 2017
  • Calvin Klein has announced at the end of November it entered into a four-year agreement with the Andy Warhol Foundation that will allow the fashion company to license Warhol’s art across its collections and activations.
  • Also in November, Calvin Klein announced it will be selling undies only through Amazon online store.
  • The shares of the parent company PVH Corp. showing steady growth in 2017.

Truth must be said; the winners may have more than meets the dissecting eye of a journalist. Besides, who is to say on what merit should the award be given: on abilities as a model/designer, on the status of books and contracts in the pipeline, on ‘activism’, or based on the network. After all, casting directors do that to attract funds, why can’t BFC? The only difference is that majority of film producers, directors and actors openly voice these issues at press conferences and admit how painstaking might the process of funding be.

If all this awards’ affair leaves a bitter aftertaste in your mouth, you are not alone.

Even the most reserved readers of Financial Times expressed similar concerns. One reader commented:

“I kind of like Adwoa but no way is she the world’s best model for 2017. Her modeling is nothing special (pretty bad most of the time) and the British Vogue ed was only good because of the great amount of technical work that went into it by the creative team. Aside from a couple of talks and that terrible, tacky website (is it a magazine now?) the only thing I hear about her supposed “activism” is the hype that tells us what a great activist she is. Besides, the award was for a model of the year, not posh socialite who does some charity work of the year. Nepo model of the year might be a better title – it was indeed no surprise that she won, it was entirely predictable.”

FT readers disappointed in The Fashion Awards and Vogue nepotism

FT readers disappointed in The Fashion Awards and Vogue nepotism

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Irina Shayk

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