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Florence Pugh, Suki Waterhouse, and Ncuti Gatwa among winners at the ELLE Style Awards 2023

Florence Pugh, Yasmin Finney, and Munroe Bergdorf attend the ELLE Style Awards 2023 (Dave Benett)
Florence Pugh, Yasmin Finney, and Munroe Bergdorf attend the ELLE Style Awards 2023 (Dave Benett)

The ELLE Style Awards made a glitzy return to the capital last night following a six-year-hiatus. Held at The Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell, the intimate affair hosted a star-studded guest list including Florence Pugh, Bianca Jagger, Stormzy, Letitia Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Leah Williamson, and Billie Piper.

Ahead of the awards, Pugh and Harris Reed snapped selfies in the loos, Piper tried her best not to knock over lampshades with her enormous hat, and Suki Waterhouse confessed that Taylor Swift’s Eras tour “changed my life. It was the best three-and-a-half hours I’ve ever had at any show.”

Latecomer, singer Tems, arrived midway through the cherry madeleine dessert, though it was Stormzy who took the crown for tardiness, turning up three hours late but just in time to present the award for Collective of the Year to Merky Books. The rapper jokingly apologised for his lack of style due to his stylist Mel being on holiday.

Once the awards got underway — hosted by BBC presenter Clara Amfo — Harris Reed presented Pugh with the award for British Icon; Gemma Chan received The Changemaker Award; London designer Martine Rose was crowned Cultural Shifter; Waterhouse received The Performer Award, presented by Sharleen Spiteri; and Ncuti Gatwa took home the award for Modern Pioneer.

Stormzy attends the ELLE Style Awards 2023 (Dave Benett)
Stormzy attends the ELLE Style Awards 2023 (Dave Benett)

Closing the evening with a standing ovation, the late Dame Vivienne Westwood was posthumously honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award, presented by Jagger and received by the designer’s husband Andreas Kronthaler and grand-daughter Cora Corré. Continuing Westwood’s legacy of activism and mission to prevent war, Corré and Kronthaler used their acceptance speech to highlight one of the world’s largest arms fairs due to take place in the capital at the same time as London Fashion Week. “DSEI is supported and organised by the British Government. A whole department within the civil service to help organise, promote, sell and supply arms and other killing equipment. A trade fair we don’t seem to hear of and one right on our doorstep,” said Corré.

To end the night, guests filed out of the dinner hall and into a dimly lit room opposite, luring us in with the sweet R&B sounds provided by DJs Sippin’ T and K Bailey Obazee.