by Stephen Garner
(L-R) Edward Enninful, Grace Wales Bonner, and Caroline Rush / Photo by Darren Gerrish

The British Fashion Council (BFC) announced Wales Bonner as the winner of this year’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund at an intimate lunch hosted at The Conduit in London on Wednesday. The Fund was established in 2008 and provides one designer with a bespoke, high level mentoring support program over a twelve-month period; as well as a £200,000 cash prize to provide necessary infrastructure to take them to the next stage in their business.

“Grace is a huge creative talent and her label Wales Bonner has a unique vision, which really relates to the now,” said Edward Enninful OBE, editor-in-chief of British Vogue and chair of the Fund Committee. “Her diverse perspective and boundary breaking design is what we need more of within the industry. I look forward to seeing how this support propels her further.”

A.W.A.K.E Mode, Alighieri, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, David Koma, Neous, Rejina Pyo and Wales Bonner were all shortlisted for the 2019 prize and were invited to present their collections and business plan to the panel. All shortlisted designers receive a full mentoring program through the BFC’s Business Support team, with access to funders and industry experts which this year included a roundtable hosted by Sir Paul Smith. Award-winning law firm Mishcon de Reya is providing pro-bono legal advice to the finalists and winner.

“Congratulations to all the shortlisted designers and particularly Grace Wales Bonner on receiving this year’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund,” added Caroline Rush CBE, chief executive, British Fashion Council. “Wales Bonner is one of the most promising creatives in the world of fashion right now. Her hard work and uncompromising vision have turned her label into an internationally acclaimed British brand and encouraged the rise of a new wave of young British creatives behind her. The judging panel was impressed by her exceptional talent for storytelling and craftmanship and we look forward to seeing her grow.”

Previous winners of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund include Christopher Kane, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Molly Goddard, Mother of Pearl, Nicholas Kirkwood, Palmer//Harding, Peter Pilotto and Sophia Webster.

The BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is part of the BFC’s business support initiatives aimed at supporting British designers and businesses from school level to emerging talent and future fashion start-ups through to new establishment and global brands.