LONDON – The British Fashion Council plans to honor the late designer Joe Casely-Hayford with a new scholarship and a posthumous special recognition award during the upcoming Fashion Awards at Royal Albert Hall on Dec. 4.
An announcement is expected today.
The 2023/24 BFC Foundation Joe Casely-Hayford MA scholarship offers funding to students with a Black or mixed heritage. They need to have an offer from, or be studying for, an MA at a BFC member university in the U.K. This year’s recipient is Taya Francis.
The BFC said the scholarship is meant to highlight Casely-Hayford’s contributions to the industry and recognize “Black British culture, and its far-reaching and impactful influence on wider British culture, especially its creative industries.”
Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council, described Casely-Hayford as “one of the most talented and ground-breaking designers of our time. He catapulted London’s reputation as a fashion and cultural hub on a global stage, and paved the way for generations of designers.”
The Joe Casely-Hayford MA scholarship is based on talent and need, and the shortlisted applications are reviewed by a panel made up of a member of the Casely-Hayford family, and industry experts. The recipient has access to the BFC Scholars program, and will receive mentoring from the Casely-Hayford family and team.
The new student funding sits alongside nearly 30 BFC Foundation MA and BA scholarships. Money for these programs comes from fundraisers such as the Fashion Awards, which are being sponsored this year by the Danish jeweler Pandora.
The timing of the scholarship and award coincides with an exhibition that opened last month in London, The Missing Thread: Untold Stories of Black British Fashion.
The show, which runs until Jan. 7 at Somerset House in London, displays Casely-Hayford’s archive in exhibition format for the first time in the U.K.
Casely-Hayford, who died in 2019, came to the fore in Eighties London and was known for his sleek, sculptural tailored clothing and professional rigor.
A Briton of Ghanaian descent, he trained on Savile Row, at the Tailor and Cutter Academy and at Central Saint Martins. After graduating in 1979, he immediately began selling his work internationally.
He launched his first eponymous label in 1984, a time when the likes of John Galliano, BodyMap and Richmond/Cornejo were shaking up the city’s fashion scene with cleverly tailored collections that mixed British and African influences.
Casely-Hayford dressed bands and musicians including U2, Betty Boo, Lou Reed and The Clash in his leather creations and tailored clothing and proved prescient on the sustainability front, too. He spun a bulk buy of World War Two army tents into a collection of safari-inspired clothes for one of his very early collections.
In 2009, he relaunched his label with son Charlie Casely-Hayford after serving as creative director at Gieves & Hawkes from 2005 to 2008. Charlie Casely-Hayford now runs the label, which has a shop on Chiltern Street in London’s Marylebone.