Last spring, the British Fashion Council unveiled what it described as a plan for The Fashion Awards (actually, it called the event “the Met Gala meets the Academy Awards”): a glammier, glitzier, more global version of ye olde national industry prize fest.
In case anyone was wondering exactly what that meant, on Tuesday the council took its show on the road — to Los Angeles, with a simultaneous screening in London — to announce a shortlist of nominees for the prize, to be awarded on Dec. 5. Karlie Kloss, the American model and Swarovski ambassador, was on hand for the event with Natalie Massenet, the British Fashion Council chairwoman, and Caroline Rush, its chief executive.
So far, so international. So celeb-y! So fashion-y! And so on.
Except once the nominees’ names were revealed, it was hard not to think: So much for change.
Jonathan Anderson, the Y.B.D. (young British designer) who is also creative director of Loewe, dominated the lists. He was nominated for four awards, including British women’s wear designer, British men’s wear designer, international accessories designer and international ready-to-wear designer. As it happens, at last year’s British Fashion Council awards, he also won women’s wear designer of the year and men’s wear designer of the year.
In fact, he has won a British Fashion Council award every year since 2013.
Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, who won the international designer award last year, was nominated twice: for international ready-to-wear designer and for international accessories designer. And Marco Bizzarri, the Gucci chief executive, was nominated for international business leader — as was Christopher Bailey of Burberry, which was also nominated for British brand. Sarah Burton, the Alexander McQueen designer, and the Alexander McQueen brand were also each nominated once; Christopher Kane was nominated twice. Ditto Vetements (and Demna Gvasalia got another nod for Balenciaga).
Burberry and McQueen and Kane, by the way, have also won multiple times in the past.
These are, unquestionably, deserving brands that have created major buzz and excitement around fashion. And they are not the only ones in contention: Fresher names such as Simone Rocha and Grace Wales Bonner are also recognized (though again, both of them have won British Fashion Council awards before). But it’s hard not to think the repeat selection demonstrates a not entirely flattering truth about the industry’s lack of imagination about its own future, and the way certain names dominate the fashion landscape.
After all, as the British Fashion Council announcement said, the nominations were culled from “1,500 key members of the fashion industry” representing “41 countries across media, retail, communications and creative disciplines such as photography, art direction, set design and production.” (In case you were wondering, The New York Times’s ethics guidelines prohibit participation.)
The issue of echo nominees is a perennial problem when it comes to fashion awards, no matter where they are. What is interesting is that the broader canvas of the reinvented British awards was supposed to solve it, and it is notable that it has not.
Of course, the Oscars are also often dominated by a handful of films each year, so this may be a general awards show issue as opposed to one specific to fashion.
Fashion pays a lot of lip service to its appreciation of emerging talent from around the world, and there are a few initiatives bubbling through that really do look at the landscape in the broadest possible sense: Vogue Talents/Who Is on Next, the Italian Vogue/Kering talent scouting award run by Sara Maino and showcased during Milan Fashion Week, which features new names from the Middle East, Asia and Europe; the International Woolmark Prize, which takes its shortlist from five geographic regions and thus by definition embraces diversity; the LVMH Young Designers Prize; and the British Fashion Council awards themselves are partly construed as a fund-raiser for fashion education and cultivating the next generation of designers.
So it is paradoxical (and kind of frustrating) that the list of British Fashion Council nominees reveals that, when it comes to the core fashion power structure, as when it comes to many power structures, the borders are still drawn very narrowly indeed.
[Source:-The New Yourk Times]