JW Anderson, the designer who blurs the line between men’s and womenswear, last night proved he is a master of both. At 2015’s British fashion awards – the industry’s most prestigious event – he was named both the menswear and womenswear designer of 2015. This is the first time any designer has won both categories in the same year.Anderson, who was up against strong competition – Victoria Beckham and Christopher Kane for womenswear, E Tautz and Tom Ford for men’s – was a worthy winner.
The Northern Irish designer, who is only 31, is an indisputable trendsetter across both collections. He often pioneers ideas seasons before the rest of fashion catches up, focusing on the 1980s while other designers were still looking at the 1970s and putting men in lace shirts three years before they appeared on other catwalks.
This uncanny ability to start trends has earned Anderson plaudits from the press, a job at Spanish leather house Loewe and investment from Parisian conglomerate LVMH. These two awards are the latest moment on the timeline of British fashion’s biggest overachiever. JW Anderson: ‘The minute your brand can be predicted, you’ve got a problem’
Stella McCartney won brand of the year but she was somewhat overshadowed by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as Absolutely Fabulous characters Edina and Patsy, who presented her award and were predictably hilarious.
Another award went to Tom Ford, who made a splash without attending the ceremony. His red carpet designer of the year award was collected by a catwalking Lady Gaga and presented by social media’s favourite male model superstar, Lucky Blue Smith. It was a covetable Instagram shot for those close enough to snap it.
The British style awards – voted for by the public – saw Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie and singer FKA twigs honoured. Photographer and Kanye West collaborator Nick Knight won the Isabella Blow award for fashion creator, presented by American model Karlie Kloss.Jourdan Dunn, who won Model of the Year, on the red carpet for the British fashion awards.Jack Whitehall was the compere for the awards, which took place at the London Coliseum. The 450 seated guests included David and Victoria Beckham, Liv Tyler, Samantha Cameron, Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne. The ceremony included an interval of a fashion show soundtracked by a live performance by Alison Moyet, with some models wearing roadside-worthy hi-vis jackets.
London fashion week favourites Erdem and Mary Katrantzou won establishment designer and new establishment designer respectively. London fashion week new talents Thomas Tait and Grace Wales Bonner were named emerging women’s and menswear designers.
The international awards addressed the current debate around the relative merits of untapped talent and a gold standard name. Karl Lagerfeld, a giant of the industry as the octogenarian designer of Chanel, Fendi and his own eponymous label, and the owner of the much-watched feline Choupette, has nothing to prove. He was presented his outstanding achievement award by Anna Wintour, the most powerful woman of the fashion establishment, who dubbed him “the soul of fashion”. Anderson called Lagerfeld his “biggest hero”.
The buzz was also around the bearded, long-haired 43-year-old Alessandro Michele, the Gucci creative director, who received the international designer award. Michele’s rise has been swift since he was named creative director earlier this year. He has quickly injected some much-needed cool into Gucci, promoting a new geek-chic aesthetic.
Worn by Anna Dello Russo and Alexa Chung, Natalie Massenet, the chairman of the British Fashion Council, called him a “phenomenon”. In his speech, Michele acknowledged the “bravery” of Gucci’s owners, Kering, for appointing an unknown and said 2015 had been “a wonderful year” for him.
The British Fashion Awards – founded in 1989 – are now an established date on the fashion calendar and the last few years have provided various talking points.In 2011, Victoria Beckham burst into tears when she received her award for best designer brand. Last year, Anna Wintour received her outstanding achievement award from John Galliano, in one of his first appearances after being sacked from Christian Dior three years earlier.