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The Fashion Memo

The Fashion Awards 2021: Best Dressed

The glamorous event returned to its London home with an exciting new TikTok partnership


Dua Lipa

Wearing a custom corseted gown by up-and-coming British brand Maximilian, singer Dua Lipa looked sleek and sophisticated. Before launching his eponymous label, Maximilian Davis cut his teeth working for esteemed designer Grace Wales Bonner. Since striking out solo, he has specialized in sensual evening dresses and luxe tailoring – and has firmly established his one-to-watch status.


London-born singer-songwriter Sarah Griffiths, AKA Griff, performed at the ceremony. Before taking to the stage, she graced the red carpet in a stunning tiered ivory gown by Simone Rocha, to whom she later presented the Independent British Designer award. Griff completed the look with diaphanous gloves, embellished socks and one of the brand’s signature pearlescent handbags.

Rina Sawayama

Singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama walked the Balmain runway during Paris Fashion Week in September, but last night she chose to glide down the red carpet wearing British designer Richard Quinn. From the stunning sculptural silhouette to the mesmerizingly beautiful floral print, it’s easy to see why Quinn is one of the industry’s hottest tickets right now.

Gillian Anderson

Actor Gillian Anderson opted for a supremely elegant gown from Chloé’s spring/summer 2022 collection, under the creative direction of Gabriela Hearst. A pioneer of sustainable luxury, the Uruguayan designer has stayed true to Chloé’s signature bohemian elegance (note the laid-back cape-like sleeves), which is one of her own design hallmarks, too.

Gabrielle Union

American actor Gabrielle Union wowed in this lime-green Valentino FW21 couture gown. Styling it with diamond drop earrings and an exquisite up-do, this was a masterclass in how to own the red carpet.

Adesuwa Aighewi

Model Adesuwa Aighewi, pictured here with stylist Law Roach, opted for this cut-out bodysuit by New York-based designer LaQuan Smith. Launching early next year on NET-A-PORTER, the brand is beloved by Beyoncé and Rihanna for its high-octane glamour.

Munroe Bergdorf

Model and social activist Munroe Bergdorf dazzled in this green and black creation by London-based designer Richard Quinn. A wunderkind of the fashion industry, Quinn was nominated for this year’s BFC Foundation Award, an accolade that recognizes the creative impact on global fashion of emerging design talent already receiving funding and support from the BFC.

Indya Moore

PORTER cover star, actor and activist Indya Moore wore a beautiful red gown, offset with matching heels, red lipstick, dazzling Fernando Jorge jewelry and a boxy, vintage-style bag.

Billy Porter

Host for the evening was actor Billy Porter. Renowned for his scene-stealing red-carpet style, he wore an iridescent houndstooth dress with dramatic sculptural shoulders by buzzy emerging British designer Richard Quinn, and jewelry by Boucheron.

Jenna Coleman

Jenna Coleman chose an ethereal white gown with a lustrous gold belt. With her hair loosely waved and pared-back makeup, the British actor looked utterly breathtaking.

Mona Tougaard

Danish model Mona Tougaard looked divine in this Alaïa look from the French maison’s spring/summer 2022 collection. Having walked the runway for what was a historic moment for the house – Belgian designer Pieter Mulier’s debut at the helm – Tougaard is the epitome of its signature sensual elegance.

Stella Maxwell

Model Stella Maxwell chose a chic mini dress from Saint Laurent’s pre-fall 2021 collection and styled it with barely-there black sandals for a look that was effortlessly elegant.

Jourdan Dunn

Model Jourdan Dunn gave timeless glamour a directional edge in this striking strapless red gown. Matching shoes and stunning jewelry made for the perfect finishing touches.

Neelam Gill

British model Neelam Gill made a dramatic entrance in this ruffled lilac gown. Statement drop earrings and sparkly sandals that snaked up the ankle completed the show-stopping look.


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After making a dramatic red-carpet entrance in a houndstooth Richard Quinn look, host Billy Porter took to the stage in a black tailored suit complete with statement feathered sleeves, followed by his third and final outfit change – a yellow, orange and blue draped dress by Roksanda

Everything you need to know about the Fashion Awards 2021

The annual Fashion Awards ceremony, hosted by the British Fashion Council, returned to London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall on November 29, and was compèred by Hollywood actor and master of scene-stealing red-carpet style Billy Porter. With creativity at its core, the event partnered with social-media platform TikTok this year – fitting for a ceremony that celebrates innovation.

The ceremony opened with an homage to the life and incredible career of the late polymath designer Virgil Abloh. Actor Idris Elba led the tribute, which included a reading of Maya Angelou’s poem When Great Trees Fall. Abloh was named one of 15 leaders of change, an accolade that celebrates individuals and brands for their actions in the past year helping the environment, people and creativity.

Abloh passed away on Sunday, November 28, after battling cancer privately since his diagnosis in 2019. The 41-year-old rose to prominence as the long-time creative consultant to Kanye West and went on to launch luxury streetwear label Off-White in 2013. Five years later, he was tapped by Louis Vuitton to be its artistic director of menswear design, becoming the first Black person to take on the role. In July of this year, Abloh was promoted to a broader position, expanding his creative remit across the maison’s parent company, LVMH.

Both the homage tonight and the outpouring of love and admiration on social media since the tragic news was announced commemorate what a true trailblazer Abloh was. Though his loss is indelible, his legacy will live on.

Actor Idris Elba led the tribute to the late Virgil Abloh

What were the award categories?

Alongside established awards such as Designer of the Year, which went to Kim Jones, and the Outstanding Achievement Award, which went to Tommy Hilfiger, the event also honored 15 Leaders of Change – the designers, brands, creatives and individuals who created positive change within the fashion industry, categorized by Environment, People and Creativity.

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele received the Trailblazer Award. Some of his most innovative work this year includes his Balenciaga-hacked Aria collection. Michele joined forces with Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia to espouse the iconic silhouettes and house codes of both brands, while examining authenticity and appropriation.

Meanwhile, Dazed & Confused editor-in-chief Ib Kamara was honored with the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator. The award recognizes the very best innovators and creatives in fashion, and Kamara was selected “for his incredible contribution to culture, art and fashion, and his commitment to challenging stereotypes and the status quo”, the BFC announced.

The BFC also unveiled its New Wave: Creatives earlier this month – a list of the 50 most innovative and inspiring young creative talents from around the world, as voted by last year’s recipients. The mix of artists, casting agents, hair and makeup artists, image makers, nail artists, set designers, stylists and writers, hailing from around the globe, were all celebrated on the night.

From left: designer Erdem Moralioglu, actor Jenna Coleman, YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP President of Luxury & Fashion Alison Loehnis, and designer LaQuan Smith enjoyed the evening’s events together

What’s special about the Fashion Awards?

It’s important to note that the Fashion Awards are the biggest annual fundraiser for the BFC Foundation, so it is a glamorous affair with a vital purpose: to celebrate brilliance in the fashion industry while supporting future growth for creative talent. Since its inaugural ceremony in 1989, it has become one of the most significant events on the fashion calendar. As a celebration of emerging and established talent – both global and homegrown – fashion history has been made on its storied stage, such as when Bottega Veneta’s Daniel Lee famously scooped four of the biggest accolades in 2019: Designer of the Year, British Designer of the Year Womenswear, Accessories Designer of the Year, and Brand of the Year, and when Jonathan Anderson was awarded Designer of the Year in the men and womenswear categories for his eponymous label in 2015.