Looking up from in the Royal Albert Hall

For me when you check your mailbox and there is something else than Domino’s Pizza vouchers, monthly bank statements, or flyer advertisements promoting the new Chinese restaurant down the street- that is surprising. I mean receiving a handwritten letter from friends or a postcard from your family abroad? That is something special and unique from all the texting madness. Receiving personal mail makes me more than happy but when I pulled out an elegant invitation to attend the Fashion Awards 2016 I was completely flabbergasted. You could have cued the fanfare from the heavens as I ripped open the crisp envelope. First reaction, Ok, Nina they must have mixed up the invites… but No! My name was clearly printed on the proud textured invitation. Second reaction – OH MY GOSH! *Oh, happy day!… gospel choir*

THE fashion awards. THE Oscars of the fashion world. A smile was plastered on my face for a good half an hour. But looking like a lunatic waving an invitation in the air is justified as being a first timer to the Fashion Awards is somewhat of a milestone.

So what even is the big deal about the fashion awards you might ask? Well, it annually celebrates the movers and shakers of the industry, spotlights extraordinary talent and rewards remarkable achievements which have shaped the year. A massive family reunion for the fashion industry, bringing together designers, editors, entertainers, photographers, managers and everyone else who contributes in bringing fashion to life. Some of the awards are local to Britain while most are international. There is recognition of newcomers for example the British Emerging Talent and New Fashion Icons, and special awards such as the Outstanding Achievement award, Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator, and Swarovski Award for Positive Change. Of course the list goes on but the honour to be even nominated is a wonderful achievement.

The 2016 Fashion Awards are different than from previous years.

Before the awards were labeled the British fashion awards (a statement against Brexit as it emphasised international talent) and was exclusively for industry members. This year however, the awards brought together 4,000 people including members of the public and 300 students from renowned fashion schools (including myself from LCF). The event was organised by the British Fashion Council and Swarovski, simultaneously supporting the BFC Education Foundation through fundraising. Dame Natalie Massenet and Nadja Swarovski brought about high expectations – especially as for the first time, the event was to be staged at the famous Royal Albert Hall. These incredibly strong women did not disappoint and delivered the promise of an evening rivalling the Met Ball in New York. Chapeau! to them both!

Me casually striking a pose

When the evening of arrived, December 5th, I was one big bundle of nerves. Wearing a vintage tuxedo blazer over a golden sequenced tunic and slitted, flared trousers I was ready to roll. Cruising through central  London had never seemed more exciting and once arriving to the Royal Albert Hall I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw the magical red carpet, flowing up the stairs to the entrance. The crowd was huddled across the street and opposite a giant Swarovski crystal “sun” welcomed the streamline of celebrities ready to strike a pos in front of it. There was Gigi Hadid with her mom Yolanda Foster, Lady Gaga with Brandon Maxwell, Jared Leto and Alessandro Michele. How incredibly glamorous. I decided to walk parallel to the carpet and enter from an alternative entrance. My respect for this industry is so great and I as a fledgling editor am not at all worthy of walking the red carpet…yet. One day though. So up I pranced behind the wall of photographers to entrance door 4. 

The actual ceremony moderated by English comedian Jack Whitehall included some very touching moments – with one of my favourites being the recognition of British Vogue celebrating their centennial year. The presentation was awe-inspiring – seeing cultural icons flash before the screen and the narrative of the human story develop from 1916. Also, it was incredible seeing Tom Ford present the Swarovski Award for Positive Change to Franca Sozzani. Her work for fighting AIDS and supporting Fashion for Development matches her legacy she built within fashion. I had the pleasure of meeting Franca at the Life Ball in Vienna. She is the most humble and inspiring person I have ever met and what I admire the most from her many qualities is her big heart for others. A real hero.

A bird’s eye view of the venue

Another emotional moment was when Gigi Hadid won model of the year. I believe she rightly deserved the award as she too has such respect for the industry, as she thanked her mentors Carine Roitfeld and Bruce Weber. She had tears in her eyes and was truly moved by the gesture. As Mario Testino stated – looks don’t make you a supermodel. It is the work ethic and personality which get you far and Gigi is truly one of the kindest people you can encounter. Other highlights included when Bruce Weber received his award and referred to Bruce Springsteen who he saw in the same venue, years ago. “I’m on fire” was the narrative of his speech – and on fire was everyone in the audience as he applauded how passion fuels the work of the fashion folk. True passion is when your soul is on fire. Everyone in the room burns for their work, and continue to strive to changed the world for the better, pushing boundaries and fulfilling dreams. What an honour to be part of that.

Ending the evening was when David Beckham handed Ralph Lauren the Outstanding achievement award. Lauren’s devotion to his family was heart-warming and so was his message for the future of fashion. He sees hope (referring to the students in the balconies) and welcomes the change brought by the next generation. The industry is full of shifting tectonic plates creating new challenges and opportunities and only together can we move forward.

Being in the same room as many of my role models was an incredible experience, which I will never forget. Having a taste of this world only made me want to work harder and learn more and one day also be seated at the beautifully set tables hopefully also sharing inspiring words to the next generation.


Full List of Winners

Swarovski Award for Positive Change: Franca Sozzani

Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator: Bruce Weber

Outstanding Achievement: Ralph Lauren

New Fashion Icons: Jaden and Willow Smith

Special Recognition: British Vogue

British Emerging Talent: Molly Goddard

British Menswear Designer: Craig Green for Craig Green

British Womenswear Designer: Simone Rocha

British Brand: Alexander McQueen

International Business Leader: Marco Bizzarri for Gucci

International Urban Luxury Brand: Vetements

International Model: Gigi Hadid

International Accessories Designer: Alessandro Michele for Gucci

International Ready-To-Wear Designer: Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga