The Grammys claim to be “Music’s biggest night,” and the Academy Awards still dominate pop culture discourse, but September 7 was a landmark evening for creative directors with very active Instagram presences and people who love to take business calls in public places. The second annual Soho House Awards took place at Dumbo House, the Brooklyn location of the luxurious, pricey chain of social clubs/hotels/meeting spaces. Even in 2023, when new award shows seem to pop up monthly, this particular shindig created confusion and curiosity for its timing (in the midst of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes), its ability to pull in A-list stars, and its broad range of disconnected categories encompassing acting, business, and fashion.
The first iteration of the award show took place in London last year. In the club’s own words, the Soho House Awards “are designed to recognise and spotlight the incredible work of creative talents across our membership: from established icons to future stars, undiscovered changemakers and all of those in between.” The actual award categories cover an eclectic range of entertainment-adjacent fields, including several related to acting, one for entrepreneurship, and the nebulous “Breakthrough Changemaker.” Notable winners in 2022 included John Boyega (Best Actor), Charlotte Tilbury (Best Entrepreneur), and Bianca Saunders (Breakthrough Designer). For this second installment, “global Soho House members [were allowed] to nominate two winners per category,” according to Women’s Wear Daily, and the victors received something called a Golden Picante.
Attendees in New York included young Hollywood stars like Emma Watson, Daniel Kaluuya (a two-time Soho House Awards attendee), Ayo Edebiri, and Paul Mescal, along with veteran figures like Taika Watiti and Alan Cumming. The jokes write themselves, but it certainly seems like the strikes have rendered stars bored enough to be more generous with their public appearances, given how many high-profile figures attended this award show few fans had ever heard of before.
Still, we might want to savor the Soho House Awards–with a major Oscar precursor in the Governors Awards and both the Primetime and Daytime Emmys delayed due to the strikes, we may not be getting our usual fill of award show glitz and intrigue. At least the Soho House Awards gave us some inspired red carpet looks, including Oscar Isaac in a Thom Browne blazer and skirt, comics Mae Martin and Jes Tom in suave suits of their own, and Watson in a glamorous white Dior dress.