Philo draws veil over McCartney era at Chloé by sewing up Designer of the Year award

The Chloé designer Phoebe Philo was named Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards last night, finally stepping out of the shadow of her friend and predecessor at the label, Stella McCartney.</p>The 31-year-old took over creative control of the Parisian house of Chloé in 2001, having previously worked as assistant to McCartney. When the Beatle's daughter departed Chloé to set up her own Gucci Group-funded label, Philo remained at Chloé to succeed her at the helm of a house known for its sense of dreamy femininity.</p>Last night's award was final proof that Philo has become a name in her own right. Comparisons between the two designers were inevitable. While McCartney's designs during her time at Chloé - where Philo assisted her - were applauded, initial collections for her solo label were less favourably received. By contrast, Philo's tenure at Chloé has been a runaway success, with sales reportedly rising by 40 per cent on last season.</p>Philo once said she "learnt a lot" from McCartney - equally many say Philo had her own influence on McCartney, adding a street flavour to her creations. Both are vegetarians, Philo works with leather but draws the line at fur.</p>There has been speculation that the friendship between the two dramatically cooled when their working life split. In just three years, Philo - one of the few successful female designers working in the industry today - has created a trendy girl-about-town image for the brand that has led to waiting lists for her handbags and jeans worldwide.</p>The designer, due to give birth to her first child later this year, was presented with her award by the singer Bryan Ferry at a ceremony held at the Victoria &amp; Albert Museum in London. She beat Roland Mouret and the Burberry designer Christopher Bailey to the prize.</p>"I'm really thrilled for her, she's a sassy Notting Hill girl who has worked very hard," said Willie Walters, her former tutor, who leads the BA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins that Philo completed in 1996. "She was always very interested in making clothes that made her and her friends look good. Sexy but edgy - what she does now. And she continues to make clothes that make people look good. I think it's fantastic that when Stella left, Chloé had the faith in her to keep her on."</p>Philo once told an interviewer of her time at Central Saint Martins, the London fashion college where she first became friends with McCartney: "I wanted to make a pair of trousers that made my arse look good, rather than a pair of trousers that represented the Holocaust or something."</p>Other designers collecting awards at the event included Alexander McQueen, who won British Designer of the Year in 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003. This year he scooped best menswear designer for his newly launched men's collection.</p>Giles Deacon, the former Bottega Veneta designer, won the New Designer award for his two season-old label. The revived leather goods company Mulberry picked up the accessory designer prize, while the seminal Sixties fashion photographer David Bailey took the V&amp;A award for outstanding achievement in fashion.</p>The make-up artist Pat McGrath, who dreamed up Leigh Bowery-style looks for John Galliano's catwalk shows, received the fashion creator award and the flame-haired schoolgirl Lily Cole was named model of the year. One award which rang the changes in the fashion industry was that for the best fashion shop, which was won by the website</p>The ceremony, organised by the British Fashion Council, had been given a make-over since last year. Hosted by Pamela Anderson with appearances by Robbie Williams and Victoria Beckham, last year's event was criticised for focusing too heavily on celebrities at the expense of gravitas.</p><b class="larger">BRITISH FASHION AWARDS 2004</b></p>Designer of the year </b></p>Phoebe Philo</p>New designer</b></p>Giles Deacon</p>Accessory designer</b></p>Mulberry</p>Shop</b></p></p>Menswear designer </b></p>Alexander McQueen</p>Fashion creator</b></p>Pat McGrath</p>Model</b></p>Lily Cole</p>V&amp;A award for outstanding achievement in fashion</b></p>David Bailey </p>