Dressing up is back! 7 lessons from British fashion's biggest night out

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Lady Amelia Windsor
    Lady Amelia Windsor
    English fashion model; youngest child of George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, and Sylvana Windsor, Countess of St Andrews
Fur was a definite no and upcycled or vintage dresses were the mainstay of the evening - WireImage
Fur was a definite no and upcycled or vintage dresses were the mainstay of the evening - WireImage

It was the night when pretty much all of fashion finally came out to play, and if the chill factor was fierce, so were the outfits. While some guests stayed away from the Met Ball in September, those who could travel to London for Monday night’s awards did so.

“Keep telling yourself it’s warm,” responded Lady Amelia Windsor when I asked how she dealt with freezing conditions while wearing metallic gauze and not much else.

Brownie points to the guests who managed to incorporate copious amounts of wadding into their outfits. I saw one sweeping ball gown train made from padded quilting.

There was no fur, of course – although plenty of feathers, arguably not much better in ethical terms. Upcycled, recycled or vintage dresses are the new currency. Arguably, these are small gestures when attendees are flying in from around the globe… still, awards are all about gestures and top lines, and the top line from the Fashion Awards 2021 is that dressing up is back, big time. If you can make a glamorous choice that’s also sustainable, so much the better. Last week, I was part of a panel sifting through about 60 applications from designers hoping to take part in the next London Fashion Week. All of them have ethical, environmentally friendly policies at the core of their businesses.

While the general tone at the Royal Albert Hall was less circus-y than the Met Gala, there was plenty of sparkle, volume and ruffles. Catsuits were a niche but strong statement. Come to that, strong statements were a strong statement: big shoulders and lashings of dark eyeshadow were the order of the evening (focussing on eyes rather than lips is a useful tip, especially if you’re eating and drinking).

Red outfits glowed like Chinese lanterns inside the hall, which had been strung with chandeliers. There will always be a place for black, too – on the basis that you can’t really go wrong in it. Still, I often wonder whether those wearing it don’t later wish they’d worn colour, even at the risk of messing up.

A man’s world

The 'new suit' as demonstrated by Billy Porter, Paul Mescal and Michael Ward - WireImage
The 'new suit' as demonstrated by Billy Porter, Paul Mescal and Michael Ward - WireImage

Micheal Ward, in a teal suit and yellow shirt, and Paul Mescal, in black and gold Gucci, right, proved that there are exciting options beyond the tux. But Billy Porter stole the show in Richard Quinn’s big-shouldered gown, above.

Do a jumpsuit

Maye Musk Priyanka Chopra - WireImage
Maye Musk Priyanka Chopra - WireImage

Body-con catsuits stole the show, as seen on Maye Musk and Priyanka Chopra, who went for Richard Quinn’s curtain florals with matching cape.

Sparing sparkle

Kate Beckinsale brought the glitz in Sabina Bilenko - WireImage
Kate Beckinsale brought the glitz in Sabina Bilenko - WireImage

It’s tempting to overdo the glitz in December, but the red carpet message was to proceed with caution. Kate Beckinsale got it right in Sabina Bilenko.

The goddess dress

Lady Amelia Windsor opted for an ultra-feminine romantic number - Wire Image
Lady Amelia Windsor opted for an ultra-feminine romantic number - Wire Image

For all the edge and zest, some of the loveliest looks were the romantic ones. Lady Amelia Windsor opted for a golden concoction by Sabina Bilenko Couture.

Back in black

Hamila Aden and Kristen Scott Thomas
Hamila Aden and Kristen Scott Thomas

Halima Aden showed black makes an excellent foil for jewellery. And Kristen Scott Thomas used it to contrast with her new chic gronde hair.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting