Commercially able: Why Christopher Kane is the new king of fashion

Scottish-born designer named British Designer of the Year

Head of a world-renowned brand at barely 30 and the most eagerly-awaited show of every London Fashion Week, Scottish-born designer Christopher Kane is British fashion’s golden child.

His designs have been lauded as fashion’s (latest) second coming since his graduation show, but tonight’s British Fashion Awards was the final seal on his success, as Kane received the evening’s plum accolade: British Designer of the Year.

It was well-deserved. Not because Kane’s star has been in the ascendant since he left Central Saint Martins in 2006, but because this year marked the apotheosis of his success.

Back in January, the Kering group – formerly known as PPR, the luxury goods behemoth behind the like of Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi and fellow Brit brands Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney – acquired a 51 per cent stake in Kane’s business, just weeks ahead of the designer’s stand-out autumn/winter 2013 London Fashion Week show.

That acquisition was the first cash injection in a British brand since the former Gucci Group took a stake in McQueen back in 2001, a show of confidence not only in Kane’s undoubted ability, but in a new generation of British fashion talent as a whole.

Christopher Kane is the most visible of that new wave of designers, which now includes the likes of Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto and Simone Rocha – all of whom received award nominations. What these names have all done is shirk London’s reputation for coupling creative nous with zero commercial acumen. Kane and his ilk are able not only to whip up fashion fantasy, but to package said fantasy as clothes you and I can buy. For a price.

He’s done it not only for his own label, but also at Versace’s Versus line, where Kane was creative director from 2009-2012. The award was presented to him by none less than Donatella Versace, a supporter since Kane’s debut.

What Kane’s award, and investment, represents is London Fashion Week’s young guard coming of age. Indeed, the 2013 British Fashion Awards were practically devoted to it. The likes of Nicholas Kirkwood and JW Anderson were also lauded, winning Accessory Designer of the Year and New Establishment awards respectively.

Alongside the new, this year’s awards celebrated the establishment – and not just shortlist stalwarts like Burberry Prorsum’s Christopher Bailey, who scooped a pair of awards as Designer Brand of the Year and Menswear Designer of the Year. Kate Moss and Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International New York Times (formerly of The Independent) were both hurrahed for their contributions to the industry. The Special Recognition Awards highlighted Moss’ quarter-century as a model, and Menkes’ 25 years at the INYT (formerly known as the International Herald Tribune). Kate Moss coupled the celebration with a party to launch her spread for the 60th anniversary edition of Playboy.

The evening wasn’t without its surprises. Harry Styles received the British Style Award, voted for by the public, while the inaugural International Designer of the Year left London, going to Miuccia Prada.

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