business Editor's pick sustainability

Purposeful innovation leads British Fashion Council award winners

“Purpose is the new luxury,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, at the British Fashion Council’s annual awards last night, which celebrated creativity and innovation from across the industry. 

He picked up the Special Recognition Award for Innovation, for his work recycling plastics recovered from the ocean into new products for brands including adidas, G-Star and Stella McCartney.

He echoed a theme that resonated throughout the evening focused on pushing for a positive revolution in light of climate change. “The planet is broken, the oceans are nearly dead and we need a dream of a magic blue universe that is well protected – something that we actually fight for together,” he said.

Also focused on this message was Dame Vivienne Westwood, who picked up the Swarovski Award for Positive Change. She used the occasion to give an impassioned speech about capitalism and the industry’s enormous responsibility to protect the planet.

Activism continued as a theme throughout the evening, with references made to Brexit, the Paris riots and even the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal revealed earlier this year.

Miuccia Prada, on reception of the Outstanding Achievement Award, added: “Just a little note for fashion, I think more and more we should feel a responsibility for defending human rights and freedom.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood

A surprise for guests meanwhile came when HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, arrived on stage to present the British womenswear designer of the year award to Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, who was of course the designer behind the dress for her wedding to Prince Harry.

Meghan took the opportunity to reference female empowerment: “As all of you in this room know, we have a deep connection to what we wear. Sometimes it’s very personal, sometimes it’s emotional. But for me, this connection is rooted in really being able to understand that it’s about supporting and empowering each other, especially as women. When we choose to wear a certain designer, we’re not just a reflection of their creativity and their vision, but we’re also an extension of their values, of something in the fabric, so to speak, that is much more meaningful. I recently read an article that said, ‘The culture of fashion has shifted from one where it was cool to be cruel to now, where it’s cool to be kind’.”

Other awards during the evening went to Craig Green as menswear designer of the year, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga as accessories designer of the year, Marco Bizzarri for Gucci as business leader, and Virgil Abloh for Off-White, in the Urban Luxe category. Gucci won the brand of the year, while Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino picked up the overarching designer of the year award.

Emerging talent accolades went to Samuel Ross for A-COLD-WALL* and Richard Quinn, while Kaia Gerber picked up model of the year. There were also special recognition awards to Kim Jones as the 2018 trailblazer and to Mert & Marcus, who won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator.

This year also marks the first time the awards have celebrated a young global creative community with the launch of the“NEW WAVE: Creatives”, which recognized 100 of the most innovative and inspiring young creative talent from around the world.

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Editor's pick film

Prada unveils “cinema poem” in Dada-inspired silent film

Prada Past Forward
Freida Pinto in Prada’s Past Forward silent film

Prada has released a short black-and-white film set in a futuristic silent dreamscape. Referred to by the brand as a “cinema poem” and a “complex collage”, it simultaneously stars Allison Williams, Freida Pinto and Kuoth Wiel in the same role, flicking seamlessly from one version of the lead character to the next.

The same goes for their male counterparts in John Krasinski, Jack Huston, and Sinqua Walls. Also featuring are Connie Britton and Paula Patton as adversaries, and Sacha Baron Cohen as a mouthless doctor.

On that level, “Past Forward”, as it’s called, is a surreal tale that includes everything from a chase and a fight scene, to a roll around on the beach and a particularly unique dance sequence.

There are tears, laughter, frights and more. There’s even a sci-fi twist with a triangular piece of glass that serves as a future smartphone device, and a direct reference to René Magritte’s The Lovers II painting from 1928, where a piece of fabric blocks two lovers’ embrace. It’s a “Dadaist plot”, as Vogue refers to it.

You have no idea if what you’re watching is a dream sequence, a series of memories or a reflection of chaotic modern (or future) life. And that’s the point. “The viewer is left to decode what is experience, what is memory, what is dream and discern the overlap and differences between them,” says the release.

But more than that, the entire 12-minute piece really is intended as a piece of art. Director David O Russell (known for big films including Joy, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) said: “Here was the opportunity to make a journey guided by layers of movie memories, life images and emotions, with no aim except to create art – as if it were a painting or a sculpture – free from normal narrative or audience expectations. The cast and I worked simply for the joy of making art.”

In an interview with Vogue, he added: “It coalesced into this memory that’s also sort of a future. I almost think the whole thing is almost a premonition of how the country feels right now to me. Because the movies that I love, the dreams that I love, have a feeling of uncertainty in them.”

Prada Past Foward
Inspiration from René Magritte’s The Lovers II in Prada’s Past Forward silent film

“It’s almost like a painter experimenting with paint. And I was surprised in the edit room to say, ‘Look how different this feels when Freida is doing it. Look how this feels when Kuoth is doing it. How does it feel when Allison is doing it?’ It’s a process of discovery. I feel something different every time I watch it when it changes from one person to the next. I feel something inside me that says something about identity or culture or race, and in time they change.”

As Vogue explains, he references Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest; the work of Franz Kafka; or automatic writing as popularized by André Breton, Robert Desnos, and their Surrealist crew in the 1920s as inspiration.

Prada isn’t the only fashion house working with Hollywood names of late. Burberry revealed The Tale of Thomas Burberry for the holiday season written by Matt Charman and directed by Asif Kapadia; Mulberry’s festive campaign was written by Hugo Guinness and directed by Albert Moya; and Moncler has also released a short film called Brave, Vision from Spike Lee.