The Fashion Awards is about to make its return to London’s Royal Albert Hall again on Monday, Dec 5.
The star-studded event has attracted some of the biggest fashion personalities around, and created memorable moments.
Here, WWD looks back at some of the highlight moments from the Fashion Awards over the years, from Rihanna’s PDA with her beau A$AP Rocky in 2019 to Vogue Italia’s longtime editor in chief Franca Sozzani making her last public appearance at the 2016 awards before her death from lung cancer.
2021: The night belonged to Virgil Abloh. The late designer — whose sudden death was announced a mere 24 hours before The Fashion Awards in London were set to take place — was on everyone’s mind that night. Before the event officially began, Idris Elba took to the stage to pay tribute to Abloh.
“I lost a friend, his wife lost a husband, the fashion industry lost a legend and the world lost a special human being,” said Elba who was surrounded by screens bearing the image of Abloh, who died Sunday after a long private battle with cancer.
“He was one of the few people I could have a conversation [with] about multitasking. But he didn’t do it for the fame or the money, he did it to inspire others,” said the actor who then recited Maya Angelou’s poem “When Great Trees Fall.”
Another highlight that night was Kylie Minogue and her dancers performing in Richard Quinn catsuits. She sang her 2003 hit “Slow.”
2019: Rihanna helped the Fashion Awards attract global attention when she attended the event with singer, rapper, and love interest A$AP Rocky. She was there to accept the Urban Luxe award for her brand Fenty. To add to the star factor, Janet Jackson made a surprise appearance to present her with the accolade.
“First of all, I mean Stephanie Phair, that’s why you’ve been grabbing me so tight, huh?” Rihanna said, addressing the British Fashion Council’s chairman.
“Thank you so much for believing in me as a young Black woman, and for giving me the opportunity to do what I love the most,” she added, with special thanks to the Arnault family.
2018: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, took Fashion Award-goers by surprise when she took to the stage to present Givenchy’s then creative director Clare Waight Keller, who designed her wedding dress, with the British women’s wear Designer of the Year award.
“It’s such a pleasure to be here, celebrating British fashion and British designers in my new home of the U.K. I’m seeing many familiar faces, many of you I’ve known for quite a while,” said Markle, who wore an elegant one-shoulder Givenchy gown and cradled her baby bump throughout her speech. At the time, she was pregnant with her eldest child Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
She spoke about women empowering each other through the clothes they wear, and fashion’s shifting culture: “It was cool to be cruel, now it’s cool to be kind,” she said.
2017: Naomi Campbell gave an emotional tribute to Azzedine Alaïa, who died unexpectedly in Paris two weeks before the event. She was joined by an army of supermodels, including Stephanie Seymour, Imaan Hammam, Veronica Webb, Mariacarla Boscono, and Marie-Sophie Wilson, all of whom had worked with Alaïa at some point during their careers.
“Everyone in this room knows that Azzedine was able to transform a woman’s body into something special — make you look great and still like a woman. He captured the essence of femininity. But beyond his work as a designer, from the second day I met him, he became my papa,” Campbell said.
“Azzedine was a protector, a teacher, a seeker and defender of all that is good and positive in this world. I am proud to honor, along with his daughters, a giant of fashion and a true master of humanity,” she added.
2016: It was a big year for Gucci and Demna Gvasalia. Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele won International Accessories designer, while the brand’s president and CEO, Marco Bizzarri, took home International Business Leader.
Gvasalia for Balenciaga won International Ready-to-Wear designer, while his brand Vetements scooped International Urban Luxury brand, a new category at the rebranded event, which was previously known as the British Fashion Awards.
Vogue Italia’s longtime editor in chief Franca Sozzani, who was there to receive the Swarovski Award for Positive Change, made her last public appearance before she died from lung cancer two weeks later.
2015: To promote “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie,” Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders dressed as their characters from the popular TV series to host the event. They hung out with Stella McCartney, who made a cameo in the movie, at the after party. (In the series, Saunders’ character Edina Monsoon was unhealthily obsessed with McCartney).
The year also saw Anna Wintour giving a seven-minute speech to honor fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld with the Outstanding Achievement award.
“He has the urgency and the daring of a young designer, even though he’s created new collections every season for some 60 years. Fashion is the personal expression of a world in transformation. Design is the art of noticing these changes and announcing them in clothes that millions of people can wear. Karl has mastered that process. But it’s his noticing, his insatiable appetite for knowledge, that invigorates his work and carries him beyond it,” Wintour said.
2014: John Galliano, creative director of Maison Margiela, handed Anna Wintour her Outstanding Achievement award at the London Coliseum. It was big moment for both, but especially for Galliano who had recently returned to the fashion industry after being fired by Dior for anti-Semitic and racist comments he made while drunk.
Galliano said the veteran editor “reached out to me when I had become an outcast. No words can express my gratitude to her.” Wintour, who took the stage a few minutes later, ended her speech — in a tearful, wobbly voice — with a tribute to her two children, “by far my most outstanding achievement.”
2013: L’Wren Scott, fashion designer and partner of Mick Jagger, made one of her final public appearances during the British Fashion Awards in 2013, wearing a floral origami-inspired look from her spring 2014 collection. Months later, the designer took her life in her downtown New York apartment.
Other celebrities who dazzled the red carpet that year included a very young Harry Styles, Sienna Miller, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Clémence Poésy.