Exclusive: The 2017 FW Awards

2nd April 2017


The FW Awards return for their sixth year this June over London Fashion Week Men’s.

Taking place in at Century Club, the intimate and riotous FW Awards will be judged by some of the most recognisable faces in the fashion industry. We sit down with their creator – a fashion writer who hides behind a hippopotamus mask to find out more, but first, here’s a full list of the illustrious judging panel, which includes our both editor-in-chief and creative director:

Hilary Alexander OBE – Best Designer
Harold Tillman CBE – Ethical Fashion Award
Courtney Blackman – Worst Trend
Rebekah Roy – Best Trend
Naomi Isted – Best Independent Accessory Maker
Stefanie Jones – Best High Street Store
Danielle Wightman-Stone – Worst High Street Store
Lorna Luxe – Best Accessory
Hoxton Radio’s Fashion Show presenters: David ‘The Preshaah’ Harris, Elspeth Pierce, Olivia Cox and Sarah Mulindwa – Worst Awards Outfit Of The Year
Prince Cassius – Best Awards Outfit Of The Year
Dave Benett – The Always Incredible Style Icon
Samuel Bensoussan – Best Blog
Elyar – Best Radio Show
Jai’me Jan – Best Event
Harry the Hippo – Best Independent Designer

Hi Harry, thanks for speaking with us. So, you’re a fashion writer in a hippopotamus mask. What’s with the disguise? Is it a reflection of fashion from an existential angle?
Harry The Hippo is a reflection of how I often feel in the industry, big and clumsy. When you spend so much time round people that are cool, beautiful and glamorous, whether those people mean to they can make you feel physically and socially inadequate. Harry is the manifestation of my battle with body image and feeling like an outsider. He had a fairly random birth. I hate having my picture taken because of my body image issues but I had an idea about wanting to create the stories as a fun poke at editorial photography. I saw him on a site and all of a sudden it all started to click. I shoot everything with my Director Of Harryography Annie, who runs the excellent Epiphannie A. We just clicked on the test day and it's been amazing ever since.

You’ve singlehandedly created the FW Awards; what are they?
The awards started as a joke article on my site ­– a response to the closed circle back slapping of the main industry awards – and focused on independent designers, what's the best and worst of the industry and the types of thing that matter to most of us. Friends said I should do an event so we held the next one as a picnic. The rain has caused a few last minute venue changes including a random pub and our saviours last year, Lights Of Soho who were so great, and one of the team there was even wearing something by one of the nominees.

Why did you start them?
I started them because I have such a passion for this industry, it can be an utter ball ache at times but I wouldn't swap it for anything. It's always a proud moment to make the shortlists for Best Independent Designer and Best Independent Accessory Maker. They represent the huge talent in this industry and the people making their dreams come true.
I love sharing that passion with people and doing something that was fun, and an excuse to hang out with friends and colleagues from the industry seemed a great idea. Who doesn't love a picnic on a sunny day, talking fashion, or any excuse to eat your own body weight in food while doing it?

This is the sixth year, correct? How come we haven’t really heard about them before?
Because I'm really bad at doing anything other than messing around. The first five years have been such amazing events and I've loved doing them with my friends but the opportunity has come along to do something much better so I grasped it. We need an industry where people talk more about the smaller labels and talent while having a bloody good time doing it.

We’ve heard that the FW Awards are the most awkward awards going, care to comment?
We were mixing up envelopes years before the Oscars. Last year Courtney Blackman was appointed to help hand me the winners and dropped one so we had to stop and look for it on the floor. It's a participation event so I frequently get heckled by attendees objecting to nominations, winners or generally pointing out just how chaotic and rubbish it all is. But that's the best bit about it; it's not stuffy and glossy; it's stupid, chaotic, noisy and ridiculous and nobody will every change that, it's why it's unique.

How do the nominations work?
Usually there's a panel, they all nominate and winners are picked from that list, but this year I've mixed it up a bit. I'm creating short lists and working with the incredible judges on refining them down to the final lists, and they'll pick the winners in their specific categories. Well as long as I write the winners down correctly. We've even made awards on the day, David ‘The Preshaah’ Harris and Stefanie Jones of Hoxton Radio’s Fashcast was our first ever Best Radio Show winner in something I made up there and then. I can't comment on her taking home the reserved sign on the table as a trophy.

You’ve got some exciting people on the judging panel this year, including our editor-in-chief and our creative director. Is 2017 the year for the FW Awards?
I'm a raving egomaniac, but even I am utterly humbled by the incredible line-up of stars and legends that said they'd be involved. One of them is a personal hero of mine and a huge inspiration to me starting my writing career. Courtney Blackman has been allowed to take part again, but any more envelope issues and she's fired as Director Of Envelopes.

What makes the FW Awards stand out from other awards platforms?
There is nothing like this – there are no proper invites, you get monster munch as a canapé; I won't have a red carpet. This is about two things: having a great time with good people and the talented people up for awards. All the stuff we do have is begged or borrowed because glitz and glam don't exist in FW Award Land.
You’re holding the ceremony over London Fashion Week Men’s in June. Anything exciting?  
This year we're going to be in the West End at Century Club in Soho. The team at the Grooming Room have invited me to join them there and so on the 11th of June we will be on the roof terrace (rain depending – I'll be listening to David and Stefanie on Hoxton Radio’s Fashcast that Friday morning for the forecast) or somewhere inside to do the awards. I'm a big fan of the Grooming Room so it's a great fit as the team there really do get the vibe and Century is such a great space – so close to the men's week action. I couldn't ask for better.
For more details, or to get involved, email Forward PR: [email protected]

Words by Sophie Exton

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