LONDON – The Duchess of Cambridge made a surprise appearance at London’s Design Museum on Wednesday afternoon to hand out this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Award to the British designer Saul Nash.
Kate Middleton, who wore a green dress by British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee, presented the award to the designer during a ceremony showcasing all of the talent support initiatives of the BFC Foundation, a charity run by the British Fashion Council. The room was filled with emerging fashion talent and industry experts.
Each year a designer is selected by the BFC, in collaboration with the Royal Household, for the Queen Elizabeth II Award. The actual trophy is inspired by the Queen Elizabeth rose and hand-produced by Lucy Price at Bauhinia Studios and in Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter.
Nash is the fifth recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Previous winners were Richard Quinn, Bethany Williams, Rosh Mahtani of Alighieri, and Priya Ahluwalia.
Queen Elizabeth made a surprise appearance herself at Quinn’s runway show to present the designer with the inaugural award for British Design in 2018.
The Duchess’ appearance at the event was a coup for the BFC as the young royal has traditionally shied away from the fashion world. Her appearance at the event could be the start of a closer relationship with the industry, now that Meghan Markle has settled in California with her husband Prince Harry. Markle worked with the BFC at the 2018 Fashion Awards, presenting Clare Waight Keller, who had designed her wedding dress, with the Womenswear Designer of the Year award.
Nash is recognized this year for his “innovative take on design,” and “developing new materials while actively pioneering a new frontier within the industry – imbuing sportswear design with an exploration of heritage, performance, and technical innovation,” which was well demonstrated with his Woolmark Prize capsule collection, which won him the grand award last week.
The designer collaborated with Knitwear Lab from the Netherlands on high-tech compression pieces made from merino wool with high tenacity for the capsule. It was shown as a part of the designer’s fall 2022 collection during London Fashion Week in February. The collection was presented alongside a video, which was set in one of London’s first West Indies barbershops in Kensal Rise, where Nash felt he truly connects with his heritage.
Nash has also been short-listed as a semi-finalist for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers last year and was granted funds from this year’s BFC Newgen scheme, alongside some other 21 designers.