The final gold medal to be awarded for Team GB's outstanding showing at the Olympics has been awarded fashionably late. Stella McCartney, who created the kit worn by Great Britain's record-breaking team this summer, has been crowned designer of the year at the British fashion industry's most prestigious award ceremony.
McCartney took to the podium twice at the Savoy Hotel, also receiving the designer brand of the year award in recognition for a label which this year has been worn on every red carpet and copied on every high street shopfloor.
The accolades were an appropriate end to a year which has brought McCartney hometown triumph. Her first London catwalk show in 16 years, held in Mayfair in February, was favourably reviewed – but it was her contribution to this summer's Olympics which did most to boost her domestic approval ratings.
McCartney emerged the eventual winner from a close three-way contest, with Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou also nominated. Kane, whose name has been linked with the prestigious design post at Balenciaga recently vacated by the surprise departure of Nicolas Ghesquiere, had strong support from within the British fashion industry, while Katrantzou had vociferous champions amongst the international voting committee. It is a second designer of the year award for McCartney, who also received the gong in 2007.
This was a night in which the breadth and depth of talent in the British fashion industry was rewarded at the expense of some of its most famous names. Neither Burberry, Alexander McQueen nor Mulberry were recognised, although there was a nod to the influence of Burberry in the model of the year gong for Cara Delevingne, star of the label's advertising campaigns.
A stellar year for Roksanda Ilincic, which has seen her dresses worn by Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge, was reflected in her beating stiff competition from McCartney and Victoria Beckham to bag the red carpet award, her first British Fashion Award.
The ceremony was a showcase for the huge success of the British fashion industry's concerted campaign to raise its profile and status by forging connections with other areas of British public life. McCartney's Olympic connection was a prime example, granting fashion a place at the top table at a time of national triumph. Samantha Cameron, fully signed up as an "ambassador" of the British Fashion Council, presented the new establishment award to Erdem, a designer whose dresses she favours, while Princess Beatrice's appearance, handing the special recognition award to the departing chairman of the British Fashion Council, Harold Tillman, reflected post-royal wedding close ties between fashion and the royals which recently saw the Prince of Wales host a reception in honour of London menswear catwalk shows. Music and film were also represented, with Ronnie Wood, Lily Allen and Salma Hayek among the presenters.
In the only award voted for by the public Alexa Chung scored a hat trick, claiming the British style award for the third consecutive year.
Designer of the year Stella McCartney
New establishment Erdem
Red carpet award Roksanda Ilincic
Designer brand Stella McCartney
Accessory designer Nicholas Kirkwood
Menswear designer Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton
Emerging talent award – ready to wear JW Anderson
Emerging talent award – accessories Sophie Hulme
Emerging talent award – menswear Jonathan Saunders
Model Cara Delevingne
Isabella Blow award for fashion creator Louise Wilson
Presenting the British Fashion Awards last night, the actress Gemma Arterton observed that Jonathan Saunders' menswear had received "great clitoral acclaim". And when Princess Beatrice of York handed a Special Recognition award to the the outgoing British Fashion Council's chief Harold Tillman, she rather unfortunately called him "Howard".
But hey, we all make mistakes. And neither Princess Bea nor Gemma A's tongue-slips were anything compared to the biggest misjudgement we heard about at the Savoy yesterday. Luckily for him, 'Mr Anonymous' - an unnamed senior executive at McCartney's early employer, Chloé - wasn't there as Britain's fashion folk listened to McCartney's speech when she collected the first of her two awards.
This is what she said: "I just wanted to share a quick story with you. Many years ago I worked for a big fashion house in Paris. It was well-known, and I learned so much there, and I did love my time in Paris. But I knew in my heart it was time to come home to the city I was born in and be surrounded by the people I love. It was a really hard decision, a scary one, but I decided to tell the house that I was going to leave and start my own label in Britain.
"It was to the top man at this brand that I delivered this news, and as I did he was really shocked. He said: "Stella, you will live to regret this. You will fail. And I offer you to stay here and start your brand in Paris with us." I was really grateful for his offer but I stuck to my instincts and and said that I still wanted to go.
"As I left he said - in his French accent - [at this point Stella adopted an 'Allo 'Allo lilt] 'you need to know: there 'as never in the history of fashion been a British fashion house with a woman's name on the label that has ever been truly global.' [Cue boos]
"So I guess I do have to thank him - Mr Anonymous. Although I disagree with him: there is Dame Vivienne, amongst others. But I will never forget how I felt that day leaving his office. I couldn't be more determined to prove him wrong. And with this award I feel like I am at the start of doing that."
The audience roundly decried this tale of sexist French fashion snobbery - and quite right too.
After that, and despite the abysmal scriptwriting of whoever wrote the autocue material (Poor Arterton was left trying to inject some passion into this line about Burberry: "their customer data innovations have only added to the international success of this desirable British brand"), the rest of the ceremony proceeded without further calamity - JW Anderson's sandals apart.