Chung, who wore a sparkle-bodiced Christopher Kane dress and Charlotte Olympia heels to collect her trophy, thanked all the designers in attendance ‘for designing such beautiful clothes, and for sometimes pretending they don’t notice when I steal them. Thanks, Kane.’
And, trophy aloft: ‘This is for girls who dress like awkward boys.’
Chung’s appearance was one highlight among many at a glittering awards ceremony often called Britain’s version of a fashion-world Oscars. Before heading into the Savoy Theatre for the awards proper, Victoria Beckham, Marc Jacobs, Kate Moss, Samantha Cameron, Kate Hudson, Livia Firth (squired by real Oscar winner Colin), Olivia Palermo, Caroline Sieber, Josephine de la Baume and Hayley Atwell mingled over champagne in the grand hotel’s foyer.
The event rendered even the most poised attendees nervous. Beckham, nominated for her third BFA, held back tears as she approached the stage to collect the Designer Brand of the Year award from close friend Marc Jacobs. After thanking her team, her parents and her business partner, the designer paid tribute to another close collaborator—her husband. ‘Without David, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do what I am doing,’ she said.
Kate Hudson presented friend Stella McCartney with the Red Carpet Award, Mary Katrantzou gave a heartfelt acceptance speech for her Emerging Talent Award – Ready to Wear, and Stella Tennant pipped the half-her-age Georgia May Jagger to the post for the Model of the Year prize.
The night’s biggest winner was Sarah Burton, named Designer of the Year at the end of a banner 2011. From designing Kate Middleton’s wedding gown (and Pippa’s bridesmaid dress) to overseeing the record-smashing Savage Beauty exhibition, the Alexander McQueen designer was the favourite in a category that also included Kane and Erdem. ‘This feels like the icing on the cake of a really amazing year,’ Burton said as she collected her award from Samantha Cameron.
Kane received his prize earlier in the evening when Chung presented him with the inaugural New Establishment Award. Despite high spirits over his win, Kane, whose black suit betrayed not a hint of his trademark fluoro or rainbow hues (‘I like to keep it for summer time,’ he said), struck a hard line over the question of whether Chung could keep her dress. ‘We’ll see,’ he said. ‘She’s had enough from me, so I don’t know. She looks ravishing, though.’
The full list of winners:
Designer Brand: Victoria Beckham
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Alexa Chung arrives at the 2011 British Fashion Awards