There was only one label to be seen in at last night's British Fashion Awards and it's a name that was at the heart of the event. Lee Alexander McQueen, who died last February, was London's brightest talent and guests were arrayed in some of the brand's most flamboyant creations as they gathered at The Savoy for the ceremony.
McQueen's label took the award for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design, which was presented by the Prime Minister's wife Samantha Cameron and collected by his long-term assistant and current creative director Sarah Burton. "I was privileged to work with Lee for 15 years and I have never met such a brave and inspiring person," she said. "He will always be missed."
The other winners were proof that McQueen's single-minded spirit lives on. Designer of the Year, handed over by Bianca Jagger, went to Phoebe Philo, the woman behind the success story at French house Céline, whose clean and minimal collections since her appointment in 2008 have reinvigorated not only the label itself but also the wider scene. Philo, like McQueen, is a graduate of London's Central St Martins and was Creative Director at Chloé. She has spearheaded a movement towards quiet, luxurious clothing and easy feminine tailoring, which has put Céline at the forefront of the industry.
Similarly stylist Nicola Formichetti, who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator, has re-imagined modern fashion with his work for Lady Gaga; it is thanks to him that the singer, when not wearing Argentinian beef steaks as a dress, often turns to young British designers for her surreal, headline-grabbing garb. Recently appointed Creative Director at Thierry Mugler, Formichetti is another Brit exporting his own radical version of cool to the rest of the fashion world.
Other famous faces included Alexa Chung, who secured the British Style award in a public vote. "It's an honour to represent British style," she said. Dutch-born Lara Stone won Model of the Year; she may not be British, but she married David Walliams in May, which makes her an honorary citizen at least. "Hopefully it will give me more recognition outside the industry," she quipped in her acceptance speech, "because usually when I walk down the street with my husband, people think I'm Matt Lucas."
Naomi Campbell won the Special Recognition award in honour of her 25-year career in the industry, and was tearful in a jewelled black chiffon and velvet McQueen gown. "It's overwhelming to be in your own country and to receive such an award," she said. "To be the first black model on the cover of Time and French Vogue is a huge step."
The Emerging Talent Awards went to design duo Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff for their ready-to-wear label Meadham Kirchhoff, and to jeweller Husam El-Odeh for his accessories. Neither are obviously accessible choices, but both are imaginative labels with creative potential and corporate savviness: El-Odeh works with cult Swedish brand Acne, and Meadham Kirchhoff is part of Topshop's designer collaboration scheme.
Nicholas Kirkwood won the Accessory Designer award for his futuristic, sculpted high heels, which landed him the role of creative director at Pollini. Patrick Grant was named Menswear Designer for his relaunch of extinct Savile Row institution E Tautz, Winston Churchill's outfitters of choice, as a cutting edge ready-to-wear range. There were gongs for bigger brands too – leather goods label Mulberry received the Designer Brand award, while Burberry won the award for Digital Innovation. The label streams its catwalk shows online and gave viewers the chance to order as they watched.