The British Fashion Council's 2018 Fashion Awards, held on Monday evening at London's Royal Albert Hall, haven't exactly been chock-full of surprises: Gucci won Brand of the Year (well, duh), while Virgil Abloh for Off-White won the Urban Luxe Award (double-duh) for the second year in a row.
But then — *Meghan Markle Wore a Thing air horn* — Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle surprised showgoers to present Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller with the night's British Designer of the Year Womenswear Award.
There was no one more fitting to present Waight Keller with such a landmark statuette than the Duchess of Sussex, who, of course, wore a custom Givenchy gown for her wedding to Duke of Sussex Prince Harry in May, and has since worn a number of Givenchy pieces for various public engagements.
The Duchess stepped out in a black, one-shouldered velvet column gown — a bespoke design by, obviously, Givenchy — with gold bangles by ethical and charitable jewelry brand Pippa Small and her hair slicked back in a chic low bun. Her shoes are courtesy of Tamara Mellon: the brand's Karat sandal in gold. (Fashionista Beauty Editor Stephanie also suggests her nails may be painted in the classic Essie shade Wicked, an uncharacteristically dark hue for a member of the British royal family, but that's just a guess.)
In her speech announcing Waight Keller as the category's winner, the Duchess thanked the show's attendees for their hospitality before describing what, exactly, fashion means to her and where Waight Keller fits into that picture.
Her full speech is listed below:
"Good evening, everyone. It is such a pleasure to be here celebrating British fashion and British fashion designers in my new home of the U.K. It's so nice to see so many familiar faces, many of you I've known for quite a while and a lot of you I've been able to meet in the past year, so thank you for the warm welcome.
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 in something of 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.' To that point, I feel especially proud to announce tonight's winner who, yes, is a British designer leading on the global stage with vision and creativity, but also with incredible kindness, which is why when I met her for the first time 11 months ago, I knew that we'd be working very closely together. The winter this evening is Clare Waight Keller."
You can also watch the Duchess' full introduction, along with Waight Keller's full acceptance, in the video below:
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