On Monday 28th November the prestigious British Style Award will be given out to the publicly voted for face of British Fashion. The award takes place as part of the British Fashion Awards hosted by the British Fashion Council on the 28th November, and is the only award where the outcome is determined by a vote from the public.
Currently in the running for this year’s award are some of British fashion’s top names including Alexa Chung (last year’s winner), Lara Stone, Edie Campbell, Florence Welch and Emma Watson. However, a controversial last minute addition was made due to public demand which resulted in Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, being added into the running for the award. In response to this a BFC spokesperson told Vogue that “The list is by no means definitive and we welcome suggestions from the British public to nominate any individual who embodies the creative spirit of London.”
Many are debating whether Kate Middleton should be part of the shortlist, but the public will decide and the result will be known on the 28th. Fashion wise, Kate Middleton first made a name for herself by steering clear of safer options and instead choosing Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen to design her wedding dress in April. Following her debut in the amazing wedding dress she quickly became one of the world’s most watched women, of which the reporting on her style choices came hand in hand with. A fan of highstreet labels, she has been seen in names such as Reiss, Whistles and Warehouse, none of which scream iconic or daring. Her designer choices have included Mulberry, Amanda Wakeley, Burberry, and Jaeger amongst other patriotic names. Unsurprisingly, all the names Kate has been reported in have benefited in profit.
Many have rushed to praise her elegant and chic style; recently however Kate Middleton has been bombarded with criticism, as individuals from the fashion world have argued that she is nothing out of the ‘ordinary’. Leading the storm against Kate is Dame Vivienne Westwood, who, back in February, stated that Kate needed to “catch up with style”. Some may agree that in the past Kate has had some questionable style moments; but, ever since her engagement, when she wore that Issa sapphire-blue dress, many of us have been left in awe of Kate’s style evolution. Thus it came as quite a surprise when Vivienne Westwood slated Kate’s fashion sense for the second time saying “It seems to me that her image is ‘ordinary woman’. Therefore, High Street shopper. And I just think she should be an extraordinary woman, wherever she gets her clothes from.”
Vivienne Westwood is not the only one. Although Kate has just topped Harper’s Bazaar’s 2011 best dressed list, many designers are speaking out against her sense of style. Designers Viktor and Rolf have criticised Kate’s choice of hair styles and use of kohl-eyeliner whilst Matthew Williamson clearly expressed how he has grown tired of the hype surrounding Kate saying, “I don’t know why everyone in fashion is waiting to see what she wears. I’m, like, thinking: get over it.”
Ignored from Kate’s style debate is the fact that her primary role is being The Duchess of Cambridge. Mirrored in her high profile title is her glossy and polished style which is very much suited to her role as the potential Queen of England, always being aware of how she should dress for the occasion. Her mixing of designer clothing with high street has made her accessible and relatable to the everyday woman, a potential explanation for the demand to add her into the running of the British Style Award.
Many go further and even question whether Kate, as the wife of the future King of England, should really be branded as a fashion icon. Some would agree to say that Kate’s role in society is not to be a fashion icon and that to be seen as a ‘trend-setter’ could deter from her role in society, and take the spotlight off of all the other achievements Kate has, such as her charity involvements. Instead of being a cutting edge fashion icon one could say that Kate created a style that is timeless and elegant but reserved, perfectly enhancing her public image.
The BFC is a fair and democratic institution, not only making the vote for the British Style Award public, but allowing voters to nominate their own choices (which can be of either gender), therefore Kate’s style journey (or not so stylish depending on which side of the debate you sit) is rightly added into the running, as it allows the public to decide whether Kate’s reserved style embodies and represents Britain. Look out for the much anticipated results next Monday!
Hannah Donald & Harriet Lennard