British Fashion Awards: John Galliano begins his rehabilitation with a little help from Anna Wintour

Designer returns to the fashion fraternity for the first time since 2011

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The British Fashion Awards are an annual backslapping event where UK fashion lauds and applauds the industry members who made the greatest impact over the previous 12 months.

Sometimes it’s about crowning new talent, or perhaps awarding those long overlooked. Occasionally, it’s about someone whom everyone seems to like getting an award, so you don’t just give it to the same person year after year - that old, oddly British sense of sportsmanship at the expense of re-awarding the really worthy.

But it’s very rare that the British Fashion Awards act as a form of public rehabilitation, or perhaps nods towards greatness yet to come. That was the sense tonight, when the 2014 British Fashion Awards were the stage for the first public appearance and speech by John Galliano amongst the fashion fraternity since his departure from Dior in 2011, and before his first show for Maison Martin Margiela in January. 

Galliano, however, wasn’t a main attraction; he was presenting rather than receiving an award, bestowing the BFC Outstanding Achievement on American Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour.


It was a fitting coupling: Wintour has been a stalwart Galliano supporter for decades, featuring his clothes in American Vogue when he lacked stockists, and even connecting him with businessmen to bankroll his fledgling company in the early 1990s. Following his dismissal from Dior in 2011, it was Wintour who reputedly brokered a deal for him to work alongside the late Oscar de la Renta as part of his re-entry into the fashion world.

Video: Anna Wintour wins Outstanding Achievement Award

After a fashion, that’s indicative of her achievement within the industry - a designer's career has often be made off the back of the fact that Wintour’s approval carries such kudos. Indeed, tonight Wintour wore a Galliano design, the first seen on the red carpet ahead of his Margiela debut.

The night’s other winners were nothing especially surprising. Cara Delevingne won model of the year for the second time in her brief career; the brand award was given to Victoria Beckham, nothing if not a brand unto herself; and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton was awarded for red carpet looks - regardless of the yearly constraints, it’s hard to get more red-carpet than that wedding dress.

The challenging menswear of JW Anderson - platform brogues, clingy cropped knits, plenty of transparency - was declared best in show, while the pretty-pretty foliate and lace designs of Erdem were a rather more conventional choice for womenswear designer of the year.