by Alexander Fury .

Hats off to British Fashion!

The studio of the truly Outstanding milliner Stephen Jones (with Mr Jones himself far right)

Many lament that fashion is one big backslap, but with London Fashion Week shrinking to four days (if only for one season) and many Britpack designers still shivering on the bread line (or there abouts), the opportunity to sound one's own horn and trumpet the creative power of British fashion should be seized at every opportunity. Last night's British Fashion Awards were a prime opportunity to highlight Great Britain's truly great fashion stars, and it didn't disappoint. A relatively recent return to the London Fashion schedule, former head girl of "London's Junior Style Mafia" Luella Bartley is in danger of becoming something of a national institution, scopping up the top prize of British Designer of the Year, while Christopher Bailey of Burberry once again secured the crown for best menswear. Alongside these two major prizes, this season saw the first of Swarovski's 'Emerging Talent' prizes, for accessories and ready-to-wear, intended to support and nurture new designers establishing themselves in the market. In their inaugural year, these titles were respectively bestowed upon shoe supremo Nicholas Kirkwood, and Louise Goldin, whose convoluted, conceptual and compelling knits have been stunning fashion week audiences for four seasons. Model of the Year went to our Fashion DJs and Fantasia star Jourdan Dunn, while the evening's award for outstanding achievement went to that international design powerhouse (and SHOWstudio favourite) Stephen Jones. The award is fitting tribute for Jones, a milliner whose unique, exquisite confections have topped the collections of talent as diverse as John Galliano, Comme des Garcons and Claude Montana, managing to perfectly compliment the clothes and yet still maintain the unmistakable imprint of Mr Jones' genius. On the back of his scent launch during September's London Fashion Week, and with his Victoria and Albert exhibition Hats: An Anthology just around the corner, this award is timely acknowledgment of Jones' immense and continuing contribution to the international fashion stage and a championing of truly outstanding British design ingenuity.