Harriet Walker: Awards are about world recognition

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The Independent Online

Britannia rules the catwalks. That was the message of the BFA's this year, which were intended not only to celebrate the talents of British-born and based designers and creators but also to fly the flag for British fashion across the globe.

Last night's winners were big international names: native alumni who have commanded attention in the industry by rapidly reaching and remaining at the top of their game. It was a ceremony all about international recognition – even visiting Martians could put a name to the face of Kate Moss, and what could be more familiar than Burberry, a label so successfully reinvented and rejuvenated without losing any of its innate Britishness? The brand's show in London last September pulled in important American buyers and press who had previously regarded London as the less commercial, harder-to-swallow fashion capital.

That's no slur on the British reputation for innovation but "edgy" is perhaps not what buyers and mainstream editors are looking for, with dwindling sales and the proverbial tightened belts on everyone's radar. These awards show the world that as well as producing visionaries and being at the forefront of design, the UK is hot on trade and intellectual resources. Britain may not have the manufacturing infrastructures that Milan or New York do, but the winners last night are part of a global picture and a global industry, of which Britain is much-valued component.