British Fashion Council Gives 2018 Fashion Awards a Kickoff Party in New York

Charles Jeffrey, Caroline Rush and Phillip Picardi - Publicity - H 2018
Steve Ferdman/BFC/Getty Images

"The Oscars meet the Met Ball": Kaia Gerber and Tyler Mitchell are among the 100 global trailblazers to be honored Dec. 10 at the Royal Albert Hall.

If you’re going to host a party that highlights the fashion industry’s relationship with New York, few places check all the boxes like Top of the Standard. Between its midcentury modern design elements, its rep as a favorite spot for Met Gala afterparties and its New York skyline views from The Standard Hotel’s 18th floor, you couldn’t blame even the most jaded Instagram star for being seduced by the venue. That idea was on full display at Thursday night’s party for the British Fashion Council’s upcoming Fashion Awards, when so many smartphones were trained not only on the standing-room-only crowd but also toward the city lights beyond the windows.

The London-based nonprofit, which supports the British fashion industry, journeyed across the Atlantic not only to fuel interest for its annual awards ceremony, set for Dec. 10 at the Royal Albert Hall, but also to announce the 20 American “trailblazers” who will be among the honorees dubbed “New Wave: Creatives” at the event. “We’ve done [a kickoff party] in L.A. the last few years, but with this new category of awards, the majority of the honorees are New York based, so it made sense to have the party here this time around,” explained Caroline Rush, the British Fashion Council’s CEO. “It’s a great party because there are a lot of new faces, but a lot of old friends as well.”

Two A-listers among those to be honored as Creatives – model Kaia Gerber and drag performer Aquaria – were not among Thursday's attendees, but buzzy names like photographer Tyler Mitchell (who shot Beyonce’s September American Vogue cover) and stylist Solange Franklin, as well as Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler, the duo behind Instagram sensation Diet Prada, were in attendance. The 20 U.S. honorees are part of a global group of 100 to be honored Dec. 10; 20 other names were unveiled in Shanghai in late September, while the remaining 60 names will be announced in London prior to the awards. Swarovski has joined the Fashion Awards this year to sponsor the category.

“Recently, New York has had a whole new revamp of young, creative talent – not just designers, but also stylists, photographers, makeup artists, set designers; there are a lot of polymaths here to be recognized,” said Charles Jeffrey, designer of Loverboy, who co-hosted the party with Rush and Out magazine editor-in-chief Phillip Picardi, “that the British Fashion Council extends its arm and showcases that to the world is so important.”

Jeffrey was recognized by the BFC in 2017, winning the award for emerging menswear designer of the year. “The awards are such a testament to a person’s work, and has made such a difference to me and my brand,” he said.

This year’s awards will be co-hosted by Jack Whitehall (currently in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) and supermodel Alek Wek. “Jack is a brilliant comedian and matched so well by Alek Wek, who’s beloved by the fashion industry,” Rush said. “I think their onstage chemistry is going to be incredible.”

It’s notable that the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s annual June awards are referred to as the Oscars of the fashion industry, while the same nickname has been applied to September’s Green Carpet Awards in Milan; how does Rush view the British Fashion Awards on the global spectrum? “We celebrate British talent, but our awards our truly international, because London as a city is such an international hub,” she said. “It’s also a city known for inspiring design that’s incredibly creative and innovative. Of course, the night is also a big fundraiser for us, so perhaps our event is more like the Oscars meets the Met Ball.”

Jeffrey agreed, noting that a trophy is nice, but for young talent, exposure and relationships may be the true prize. “Fashion loves to come together and celebrate good things, but this is also such a good way for people to connect, and so many other things can be happen once these relationships are built,” he said. “My brand is a great example of that: The U.S. is now our second largest market, and New York has become one of my favorite cities. It feels like the boyfriend to my husband, which is London. New York is my bit on the side.”