The rain poured down, but the stars still came out Monday night for the Fashion Awards in London, one of the glitziest events on the annual industry calendar. The British answer to the Met Gala, it is celebrated during the first week of December at the Royal Albert Hall, with several thousand guests and a vast red carpet on which celebrities promenade under a wintry night sky.
The event serves as an annual fund-raiser for the British Fashion Council, a nonprofit that promotes the British fashion sector and supports the army of young designers and creatives who flock to London to make their mark on the industry. But it’s also an excuse for a jolly good knees-up, as the British might say, and a celebration of some of fashion’s most influential talents as well as its Next Big Things.
There were major awards for the makeup maven Charlotte Tilbury, the outgoing British Vogue editor Edward Enninful and the Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton. Ms. Burton, who designed the Princess of Wales’s wedding dress in 2011 and who said in September that she would leave McQueen after 26 years, came to the stage to accept her “gong” wearing bluejeans. Valentino Garavani, now 91, sat flanked by Anne Hathaway and Gwyneth Paltrow and received an outstanding achievement award. And Paloma Elsesser became the first curve model to win Model of the Year.
Sarah Mower, the American Vogue journalist and critic, was presented with a special recognition award for championing young design talent. Some of those she has supported over the years also won prizes. Conner Ives won the BFC Foundation Award. Chopova Lowena, the design duo known for their carabiner belt kilts, took home the New Establishment women’s wear award, and Bianca Saunders was the winner in that men’s wear category.
Jonathan Anderson, predictably, won designer of the year. Martine Rose was men’s wear designer of the year, and Maximilian Davis, lately of Ferragamo, where he has been overseeing a chic revamp, won British women’s wear designer of the year.
But for most of the night, all eyes were on the real action — the red carpet. This is no elegant Hollywood affair: With lashings of rhinestones and spikes, velour, PVC and cascading sparkles, fashion awards favor the brave. Here are 15 looks that caught the eye.
The looks with the most festive sparkle
Amal Clooney turned the most heads in a shimmering floor-length Versace gown covered in sunset-hued sequins. Honorable mentions must go to Felicity Jones, immaculately turned out in embroidered Erdem, and Alexa Chung, in a dress of 3,980 metallic paillette discs by 16Arlington.
The looks that said look but don’t touch
From the front, Rita Ora’s plain black dress from the fast-fashion giant Primark looked unexciting. Then she turned to reveal silver chrome prosthetic spikes studded down her back — designed by the makeup designer Isamaya Ffrench — that resembled those on a dinosaur’s spine. Chet Lo is making a name for himself as a prickly designer on the London scene; Leigh-Anne Pinnock of the band Little Mix wore a scarlet-halter version of his signature spiked dresses, with daring slashes down the sides.
The look that looked the most like spaghetti
Anne Hathaway arrived with Valentino himself in a creamy archival gown from the designer’s spring 1993 collection inspired by spaghetti. “I’ve always dreamed of being pasta!” she declared.
The looks that could be fashion-forward armor
The Canadian actress Taylor Russell wore a three-dimensional embellished green and white flower plate top with a column skirt by Jonathan Anderson for Loewe. Maximilian Davis of Ferragamo put the model Anok Yai in slinky chocolate-brown chain mail.
The looks that said a lot with not much
Pamela Anderson and Kate Moss were among the most famous blond bombshells of the 1990s. These days, they are happy to let less say more. Ms. Anderson, 56, dressed in a white Victoria Beckham ensemble, continued her streak of makeup-free awards ceremony appearances. And Ms. Moss, 49, wore a simple black vintage gown by David Fielden with a slit and batwing sleeves.
The looks with OTT headdresses
The “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams arrived in a sheer, tiered dress from Simone Rocha. The model Jourdan Dunn wore a sheer black paneled gown with a velvet train buttoned to her shoulder by Thaihuy. But what elevated the two looks was wacky but wonderful headgear: a delicate chain-link bonnet that came over the eyes for Ms. Williams and a tall black pillar box for Ms. Dunn. Hats off to the two of them.
The look that would be hard to wriggle out of
Maya Jama was a presenter of the awards ceremony so wore multiple looks over the course of the evening. How she managed to get out of her first dress — a giant taffeta lace-up confection by Dolce & Gabbana with matching hold-ups — is anyone’s guess.
The looks that delivered classic Hollywood glamour
Scarlet red may be the hottest color of the season, but old can also look new. Gwyneth Paltrow was on hand to present Valentino with his lifetime achievement award and wore a vintage Valentino couture dress with a feather embellished coat that looked as if it had just come off the runway. Gillian Anderson, in sweeping ruby velvet, didn’t just dress for the red carpet. She practically blended into it.