With a working title “Brits Abroad,” one might understandably be mistaken for thinking the British Fashion Council’s Wednesday evening gathering in New York might have been an extremely boozy affair full of sunburnt tourists.
But while the Brits’ preferred summer cocktail Pimm’s was on offer, that image couldn’t have been further from the truth as a herd of well-dressed designers, models, retailers and media types decamped to the terrace of the Edition hotel group’s brand-new outpost in Times Square for their own Anglo-American summit.
“Tonight on this side of the pond we’re hosting an Anglo-American summit of sorts, but a lot less controversial and a lot more fun,” said Stephanie Phair, chair of the BFC and currently chief strategy officer at Farfetch, in her opening remarks.
Unlike the real one which this week saw President Donald Trump embark on his first state visit to the U.K., this was a relaxed cocktail party that gave the BFC the chance to showcase Britain’s finest talent to an American audience, a market that can be hard to crack, added Phair.
There was, however, one thing that the party had in common with Trump’s trip to England. While Queen Elizabeth II was present at that, Britain’s queen of fashion Anna Wintour made her own appearance at the BFC’s inaugural cocktail party in New York, an unofficial guest of honor hobnobbing with fellow Brits, designer Christopher Kane and model and singer Karen Elson.
The latter was cohost alongside Phair and BFC chief executive officer Caroline Rush and despite living in the U.S. for 22 years hasn’t lost her passion for promoting British talent.
“Being that I’m from Britain, I’m always supporting British fashion designers and the British fashion industry in general,” Elson, now based in Nashville, Tenn., told WWD.
“After being in the industry for a very long time I always want to help, especially new talent, find connections and find a person that can help them with their business and I think New York is very good for that,” she added.
As for whether British fashion will get more political as Brexit looms, Elson said she would like to see that.
“I think Britain is always less afraid to be controversial — way more so than American fashion — so it would be wonderful to see some designers take a stand,” she added.