A freezing venue, poor acoustics, slurring presenters and controversy about the winners. That would be the British Fashion Awards last night. It started off well enough, with a drinks reception at St James’ Palace; they even roped in Prince Andrew (that fashion icon) to awkwardly shuffle from group to group asking everyone why they were there—for the free booze and a nose around the loos, we imagine. The PM’s wife was there and the probable future PM’s wife was there. Even A-listers like Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss added some glamour to the event. So why wasn’t it the glamorous affair it should have been? Well, the dinner and ceremony were just so damn long that everyone lost interest. Cars arrived at 10:30 to take everyone home, but that was when the first course arrived and the first award hadn’t even been announced. Parties due to start at 11 pm were deserted until 1 am, with Fantastic Man deputy editor, Charlie Porter, DJing to a room of publicists and bar staff.
None of the winners were big shockers, but when Christopher Bailey was announced as Designer of the Year for Burberry, there were some notable walk-outs (including CSM’s formidable Louise Wilson) and the audience barely raised a clap. Maybe it was because it was so late and everyone was knackered; maybe it was because no one beyond the third row could hear a thing; maybe it was because there were other designer favorites who in some people’s eyes were more deserving; or maybe it was because everyone’s energy had been consumed by the standing ovation they gave Grace Coddington and Karen Elson.
Poor Karen Elson. Looking gorgeous in red McQueen and a slick of matching lippy, she looked like a proper glamazon as she walked onstage. Then…she fell…off the stage. There were gasps and confusion all round. But like a true pro, she returned to rapturous applause and presented Grace with her Lifetime Achievement Award before being ushered off to the emergency room with a suspected dislocated thumb, broken rib and seriously bruised ego. Grace’s acceptance speech brought a tear to the eye—they really don’t make them like her anymore—and rescued the mood. So it took a New York fashion legend (yes, she was born in Wales, but has American Vogue in her blood) to save the British Fashion Awards. Typical.