No one works a red carpet quite like musician-turned-beauty-mogul-turned-fashion-designer, Rihanna. Despite launching a matter of months ago, her phenomenally successful label Fenty is up for the Urban Luxe award – the perfect excuse for the genre-defying star to step out in her sought-after designs. Finishing her satin mini dress with chic evening gloves, satin pumps and a liberal helping of diamonds, she makes the case for hi/lo dressing on the red carpet.
Model of the year nominee and former PORTER cover star Adesuwa Aighewi is known for her fearless approach to fashion, and this look is no exception. From the plunging neckline – one of next season’s biggest trends – to the feathered details and Messika jewelry, she proves that sumptuous black velvet can be a bold choice.
The ultimate poster woman for her cult label, Roksanda Ilinčić – one of the nominees for this year’s inaugural Designers’ Designer Award – wore a fantastical tiered dress of her own creation.
Standing out in a sea of muted shades, model Adut Akech stuns in a voluminous emerald green gown by Valentino. She lets the supersized bow do the talking and keeps the rest of her look pared-back, with pointed pumps and drop earrings.
Legendary model and recipient of this year’s Fashion Icon award, Naomi Campbell champions homegrown talent in an ornate beaded gown courtesy of Alexander McQueen – and the result is truly sublime.
Game of Thrones fans will know her as the Mother of Dragons, but tonight Emilia Clarke went for high-octane glamour in a canary-yellow Schiaparelli gown, complete with sequins and plumage, and dazzling yellow diamonds by jeweler Moussaieff to match.
Actor and original ‘Super’ Amber Valletta is one of the industry’s most in-demand models, and her personal style is just as compelling – just take this tasteful white mini dress by Stella McCartney, complete with floor-sweeping cape.
French model Cindy Bruna has amassed a cult following thanks to her playful personal style, and this ’80s-inspired look does not disappoint.
Actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw proves gives a masterclass in minimalist dressing with this simple yet striking black gown, finished with a bijou bag courtesy of cult designer Gabriela Hearst.
YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP Luxury Division President Alison Loehnis proves that simplicity can be just as impactful as sparkles in this beautifully crafted Emilia Wickstead gown, finishing her ensemble with diamond earrings by Boghossian for a truly timeless look.
Putting a contemporary twist on after-dark dressing, Michelle Dockery opts for a form-fitting sequined gown, offset with a heavy-duty ear cuff and a graphic bobbed hairstyle.
Never one to shy away from a scene-stealing look, Killing Eve star Sandra Oh dazzles in a fabulously maximalist gown by Erdem. From the oversized bow to the purple sequins and sheer-lace panels, this creation is a masterclass in more-is-more dressing.
Model of the year nominee Adwoa Aboah is known for distinctive personal style – and that extends to the red carpet too. This deconstructed floral gown and buckled choker combination puts a subversive twist on black-tie dressing.
Somali-American model Halima Aden brings some joy to the red carpet in the form of a frothy pink gown by Preen By Thornton Bregazzi – complete with co-ordinating accessories and that mega-watt smile.
Jaws hit the floor when Giorgio Armani arrived to receive his Outstanding Achievement award accompanied by Hollywood icon Julia Roberts, who wore a sophisticated black sequin jumpsuit by…Armani, of course.
Argentinian model and artist Mica Argañaraz hits the sweet spot between effortless and elegant in a romantic, button-down dress by Jacquemus, while her graphic vanity case keeps her outfit fresh and fun.
Arriving on the arm of Giorgio Armani (the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Achievement award), Hollywood legend Cate Blanchett stunned in an exquisitely crafted couture gown designed by the man himself.
Actor and producer Naomi Watts brings some silver-screen elegance to the proceedings in a chic off-the-shoulder gown in sumptuous black velvet by Burberry; finished with statement earrings and a sweep of red lipstick, she looks every inch the Hollywood goddess she is.
The presenter, designer and all-round Renaissance woman flexes her sartorial prowess in a shimmering monochrome look. The shirt cuff and collars put a playful spin on her sequined dress, while her signature cat-eye liner imbues her outfit with French-girl cool.
Perennially chic model and entrepreneur Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has the midas touch when it comes to styling, quite literally in the case of this stunning chainmail gown by Bottega Veneta. Ever the sartorial alchemist, she keeps the look modern with a simple gilt clutch bag and pared-back beauty.
The impossibly glamorous Irina Shayk is a pro when it comes to red-carpet dressing – and this faultless Burberry look is no exception.
The Swedish pop sensation takes party dressing to another level in a mood-enhancing sequined dress, matching earrings and ’60s-inspired glam.
Lime green might not be the obvious choice when it comes to after-dark dressing, but Attico co-founder Giorgia Tordini proves it’s a risk worth taking in this minimalist gown, striking the perfect balance between subtle and statement.
Portuguese model Sara Sampaio makes a strong case for ladylike dressing in a beautifully embellished nude gown by Armani Privé – and looks utterly enchanting.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Host for the night Tracee Ellis Ross makes a dramatic entrance in a diaphanous white gown by Loewe and a maximalist necklace – we wouldn’t expect anything less from this avant-garde fashion fan.
Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel steals the show in head-to-toe red – setting off her sequined gown by Preen By Thornton Bregazzi with satin stilettos and a slick of scarlet lipstick.
Model Arizona Muse puts a subversive spin on eveningwear, forgoing a gown in favor of a striking three-piece white suit.
One of the first guests to arrive on the red carpet, supermodel Stella Maxwell proves that less is more in a sultry black gown complete with ruffle detail and barely-there sandals.
What’s special about the British Fashion Awards?
Now entering their 30th year, The UK’s Fashion Awards have become one of the most illustrious events in the annual fashion calendar since their inaugural ceremony in 1989. A celebration of emerging and established talent, there’s no doubt you’ll be familiar with at least a handful of the prodigious designers who have been honored over the years. However, what you might not be aware of is the pivotal role the awards play in promoting British fashion throughout the world. Open to industry insiders and the public alike, the awards are the British Fashion Council’s biggest annual fundraiser, with proceeds going towards education and business initiatives, as well as mentoring schemes that support talent from school level upwards. There’s a beautiful circularity to the awards – they celebrate the industry’s most-deserving figures while paving the way for its future stars. This year, the ceremony, held at London’s Royal Albert Hall on December 2nd, will be hosted by actress, CEO, producer and all-round renaissance woman Tracee Ellis Ross. As a founding member of the Time’s Up movement and an advocate for safety and equality in the workplace, among a myriad of other important issues, the Golden Globe winning actor’s involvement in the event is a powerful reminder that, as an industry, fashion has a lot of work to do. However, her presence should also serve as an example of how, if the industry pulls together, real change is possible.
Prolific winners and standout moments
The Rocha family made history in 2016 when Simone was named British Designer of the Year Womenswear, 23 years after her father, John, scooped the British Designer of the Year award, making them the only duo to complete this familial feat. Jonathan Anderson, another British designer, known for his eponymous label and work for Spanish heritage house Loewe, pulled off the ultimate coup when, in 2015, he was awarded Designer of the Year in the men’s and womenswear categories. Other notable winners include the seminal Lee Alexander McQueen, four-time winner of British Designer of the Year, whose award tally came to five when, in 2010, he was posthumously awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design prize, a fitting recognition for his extraordinary career. In 2016, in a poignant turn of events, Franca Sozzani, legendary editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, became the first person to be presented with the Swarovski Fashion Award for Positive Change, just a few weeks before succumbing to her battle with cancer. Arguably, the most memorable moment in recent years is the Duchess of Sussex’s surprise appearance at the 2018 ceremony. She presented Givenchy creative director Clare Waight Keller, the woman who designed her wedding dress, with the British Designer of the Year Womenswear award. Needless to say, when the duchess took to the stage, declaring Britain as her ‘new home’, Instagram went into overdrive.
Who rules the red carpet?
It should come as no surprise that, as a ceremony dedicated to celebrating the best and brightest of the fashion industry, each year, the attendees bring their A-game to the British Fashion Awards. There have been too many amazing looks to mention here (we highly recommend whiling away an afternoon on Google Images), but it’s fair to say that the red-carpet style has recently hit new highs. In 2018, Alek Wek dazzled in a black and fuchsia dress by Emilia Wickstead and Kristin Scott Thomas turned heads in a pink Valentino gown, while Gigi Hadid’s sculptural silver Versace jumpsuit stole the show in 2016. Rihanna went for a suitably irreverent take on after-dark dressing in 2014, when she walked the carpet in an oversized blazer by Stella McCartney – sans pants, of course. Gwendoline Christie flew the flag for iconic British design in 2015, wearing a breathtaking gold gown by Vivienne Westwood Couture. Back in 2009, Kate Moss debuted a rock ’n’ roll take on evening dressing, sporting a romantic ruffled dress by John Galliano for Christian Dior, while last year’s model of the year winner Kaia Gerber put a contemporary spin on evening style in a floor-skimming beaded tunic and cigarette pants, courtesy of Alexander McQueen. However, it was one choice accessory that really got people talking – Gerber arrived arm in arm with her mother, original ‘super’ Cindy Crawford.
Who are the contenders for the 2019 Fashion Awards?
Bottega Veneta’s Daniel Lee has had the industry enthralled since he debuted his first collection for the brand – pre-fall 19 – and he’s rounding off a triumphant year with an eye-watering four nominations – Accessories Designer of the Year, British Designer of the Year Womenswear, Designer of the Year, and Brand of the Year. Loewe and Gucci are, as ever, in the running for multiple awards. The British Emerging Talent Womenswear category, always fiercely contended, includes a nod to Alighieri’s Rosh Mahtani and Korean designer Rejina Pyo, both of whom are beloved by industry insiders and have been quietly building cult brands for the past few years. In fact 2019 also marks the inaugural Designers’ Designer Award, which aims to spotlight British designers whose creativity in product design, campaigns and collaborations have made a marked global impact throughout the year. As for model of the year? It’s all to play for, with nominees including industry veterans Adesuwa Aighewi, Adwoa Aboah and Winnie Harlow, alongside new face Adut Akech and last year’s winner, Kaia Gerber.
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