London, for all its current woes, remains incredibly good at getting dressed up. Keep calm and carry on has long been the city’s mantra. And the Fashion Awards, held Monday night against a backdrop of the coming general election, Brexit and a terror attack on London Bridge late last week, proved no exception.
So there was the vast, floodlit red carpet that led almost 4,000 guests into the circular belly of the Royal Albert Hall; there was the constellation of homegrown and international celebrities air-kissing and drinking fine wines in tiered velveteen-lined boxes — and wearing beautiful clothes. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley shimmered in top-to-toe gold sequins, as did Donatella Versace in a hot pink metallic gown. Tom Cruise was in a three-piece tuxedo while Rihanna held court in a puffy peppermint green confection of her own creation.
And there was the main course: carrots. This year, meat was off the menu. And that wasn’t the only new development. Attendees also walked into a dramatic all-white presentation — or was it a protest? — put on by Central St. Martins graduates, with models holding signs that read “climate emergency” or wearing outfits with dystopian undertones.
As for what happened onstage, here is the night by the numbers.
Five: Standing ovations
Naomi Campbell, who won the Fashion Icon award, was a star of the night. She got the crowd to its feet when she took to the stage in a barely there crystalline floral gown from Alexander McQueen to accept her prize from Jonathan Ive. The model gave a long acceptance speech that charted laughter and tears, saying it all felt like “an out of body experience.” The surprise arrival onstage of Janet Jackson as a presenter sent guests wild, as did the moment that Christopher Kane — a longtime London industry favorite — won the Designers’ Designer award.
Some moments, however, were even more poignant. The pride in the room was palpable when Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen was awarded the Trailblazer prize. And then Anna Wintour took to the stage to pay tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, sharing memories of the German-born designer who died in February. She also announced that Chanel, with the British Fashion Council, had created a scholarship in Mr. Lagerfeld’s name.
“Karl used to say that fashion is a train that waits for nobody,” Ms. Wintour said to the students sitting in the top tiers of the hall. “Get on it, or it’s gone.”
Four: The number of awards won by Bottega Veneta’s Daniel Lee
Eighteen months ago, Daniel Lee was a virtual unknown in the fashion industry when he was hired as creative director at Bottega Veneta. On Monday night, the 33-year-old designer won not one, but all four of the accolades he had been nominated for: Accessories Designer of the Year, British Designer of the Year Womenswear, Brand of the Year and Designer of the Year.
The Awards, a fund-raiser for the fashion council’s talent initiatives, are moderated by 2,500 key members of the fashion industry who nominate, and then elect, the winners.
Clad in a black polo neck and tuxedo jacket, a nervous Mr. Lee gained confidence each time he spoke to that crowd. But even he might have been rolling his eyes at the end and thinking it was time to share the glory. Or maybe not.
Three: An offer from Tracee Ellis Ross to Rihanna and Harry Styles
This year’s mistress of ceremonies was Tracee Ellis Ross, whose five showstopping outfits matched her hosting style. Clad in a multicolored floral-printed cape dress with Swarovski crystal neckline and cuffs by Richard Quinn, for example, Ms. Ellis Ross brazenly propositioned both Harry Styles and a giggling Rihanna (who also collected the Urban Luxe prize for her Fenty brand).
Later, dressed in a green and black brocade ruffled dress topped with a wide-brimmed hat by Erdem, Ms. Ellis moaned: “If only I could wear something like this to the Emmys. They wouldn’t get it.”
Two: The number of legendary Hollywood actresses who accompanied Giorgio Armani onstage
Giorgio Armani had three dates as he walked the red carpet before receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award: Julia Roberts, Lauren Hutton and Cate Blanchett. Ms. Roberts and Ms. Blanchett are both ambassadors for his brand, and later those two actresses joined him onstage, where he said absolutely nothing save for a “thank you,” which he pretended to read from his hand.
“Mr. Armani is a man who prefers to let his clothes do the talking,” Ms. Blanchett said after helping him collect his prize.
One: Standout speech
The 19-year-old Sudanese-Australian model Adut Akech, a mainstay at global fashion weeks who appeared on five different international Vogue covers in September, won the Model of the Year award. Resplendent in green Valentino, she used her moment to remind everyone in the room “that someone like me winning this award is a rarity.”
“This is for the young women and men who found representation and validation in my work,” she continued. “I want them to never be afraid of dreaming big like I once did. To them, I say this: Whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s modeling or acting or medicine, you should never doubt yourself. Don’t let the world convince you that it is not possible. If a Sudanese refugee who came from nothing can do it, anyone can.”