Leah Dolan, CNN
“London is back,” announced Selling Sunset’s Christine Quinn, whose pre-recorded year-in review-video message opened the 2022 Fashion Awards on Monday evening. “New York is back, Paris is back, Milan is back,” Quinn continued, as viral runway moments from fashion houses including Bottega Veneta, Coperni, Tommy Hilfiger flashed across screens inside the historic Royal Albert Hall in London.
The venue’s round arena was filled with tables for celebrity guests including Florence Pugh, Tilda Swinton, Naomi Campbell and Stormzy who had all filed in from a glitzy but freezing cold red carpet to attend one of the biggest fashion calendar events of the year.
Model Bella Hadid — who recently made headlines when a dress was sprayed onto her body during Paris Fashion Week — scooped up the highly anticipated Model of the Year prize, presented by fellow model Ashley Graham.
“Clothes are nothing until they are brought to life by the majestic craft of the model,” said Graham before announcing Hadid’s win over nominees Adut Akech, Quannah Chasinghorse, Paloma Elsesser and Lila Moss.
The diverse group of nominees was seen as a hopeful indicator that the industry might be challenging its previously favored narrow, eurocentric beauty standards for something more inclusive: Chasinghorse is an Indigenous model and activist, Elsesser is a plus-size model while Akech is a refugee from South Sudan.
Hadid was unable to receive her prize in person because “her body wouldn’t allow her,” said stylist Carlos Nazario who accepted on her behalf (Hadid has spoken publicly about her struggles with Lyme disease and mental health challenges.)
In a video message, Hadid thanked her agent Luiz Mattos and her mother Yolanda Hadid, as well as those less visible in the industry. “You all, my fashion family, were the ones who showed me who I could be and opened my eyes to the things I could do,” Hadid said. “I want to share this award with all of the models who show up every single day, and work hard with little or no recognition. I know it’s not easy and I see you. I am such a small part of a huge vision, and every person and every project is just as important as the next. This award is for all of us.”
Pierpaolo Piccioli, who has been the creative director of Valentino since 2016, took home the Designer of the Year award — a category that previously included Balenciaga’s Denma, until his name (he goes only by his first) was removed from the list of nominees following widespread criticism over two controversial ad campaigns released last month. Demna was not present at the event.
Best Independent British Brand was given to Wales Bonner and the BFC Foundation Award went to S.S. Daley. As a sign of the times, Burberry was presented with a new award for Metaverse World and Gaming Experience with specific credit given to the label’s collaborations with games such as Minecraft and Blankos Block Party.
Elsewhere in the evening, celebrations turned to commemorations with another industry tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September this year. Following a performance from Queen’s Royal Hussars, the ringed carpet of the Royal Albert Hall became a catwalk as each designer from the London Fashion Week schedule sent out a look from their latest collection. After a brief interlude of the Sex Pistol’s “God Save the Queen,” the tribute concluded with a brief but sombre bagpipe recital.
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