Who won Luxury Law Awards 2023 – and why

The top brands, law firms, legal teams and individuals honoured at Luxury Law Summit London

Belmond’s legal team, Baker McKenzie and Burberry’s general counsel, Edward Rash, were among the big winners at the Luxury Law Awards which also saw representatives from leading brands Manolo Blahnik, Mulberry and Riva Yachts picking up awards.

The ceremony took place in June at the British Museum during Luxury Law Summit London, which is hosted by The Global Legal Post.

A day of top-level debate around the theme of The Next Generation of Authentic Luxury preceded the awards, which recognised exceptional achievement within the sector both by individuals and their teams.

Read on to discover who secured the trophies, which were designed by awards partner Asprey. 

Click here for more details about the awards, which were held on 13 June.

Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Taylor Wessing
Winner: Edward Rash, Burberry

Edward Rash (right) with Jason Rawkins

Having joined Burberry in 2007, Edward Rash was promoted from head of legal to general counsel in 2015 and now leads the corporate affairs function. He is singled out as a shining example of how a general counsel should work with chief executives and creative directors to execute strategy and is praised by colleagues for his integrity. Recent projects saw Burberry become the first luxury fashion company to receive approval for its net-zero emissions target by the Science Based Targets initiative. Presenting the award, Jason Rawkins, head of Taylor Wessing’s fashion and luxury group, said: “Although this is a lifetime achievement award, this is really recognition of Ed’s incredible impact so far. We look forward to seeing Ed’s continuing impact at Burberry – personally and through his inspiration to the Burberry legal family – as Burberry continues to deliver great outcomes for its customers, communities and stakeholders.” 

Global Fashion Leader sponsored by Killik & Co
Winner: Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council

Caroline Rush with Killik & Co partner Jer O'Mahony 

Caroline Rush is a pivotal figure within the British fashion industry having taken up the role of chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC) in 2009. Since then she has positioned the BFC as the leading voice for the sector both domestically and internationally. Key landmarks include working with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to launch Britain Creates, an artistic project which formed part of the Fashion 2012 platform to celebrate the Games and the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and the launch of the BFC/GQ Designer Fashion Fund, which provides cash prizes to support designer businesses.

Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by Perkins Coie
Winner: Laboni Saha

Laboni Saha (right) with Perkins Coie partner Miriam Farhi

Laboni Saha, the winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year category, founded her own fashion brand L Saha in 2014. Her luxury womenswear label has been praised for “creating timeless collections that follow holistic, eco-friendly and pro-people principles”. She is the founder of the True-Luxury 3.0 conference in London, which focuses on sustainable luxury. She is also a guest lecturer at the London College of Fashion, Istituto Marangoni, INSEEC London and the British School of Fashion.

Business Leader of the Year sponsored by K&L Gates
Georgina McManus, Manolo Blahnik

K&L Gates partner Francesco Carloni with Georgina McManus

Manolo Blahnik general counsel Georgina McManus secured the award for business leader of the year for her commitment to challenging the status quo, driving commercial objectives and championing equity. Her achievements include leading the legal team’s landmark victory in its 22-year litigation which last year resulted in the brand being returned its trademarks by the Supreme People’s Court of China, supporting the expansion of the brand’s direct-to-consumer and wholesale network from a single store in the UK in 2015, and establishing the Manolo Blahnik Foundation, giving effect to the brand’s strategic commitment to formalise its charitable activities. In 2020, she co-founded INLAW, an eight-module educational initiative aimed at 15-16 year olds, providing them with information on careers in law, CV preparation, mock interviews, immersion days and work experience.

The Marella Naj-Oleari Luxury General Counsel of the Year sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine
Winner: Kate Anthony Wilkinson, Mulberry

Kate Anthony Wilkinson (right) with Luxury Law Alliance executive director Anne Gallagher

Kate Anthony Wilkinson, winner of the Marella Naj-Oleari Luxury General Counsel of the Year, has led Mulberry’s legal team since 2011, making her one of the UK’s most experienced luxury GCs. A champion of sustainability, she counts corporate governance, M&A, commercial law, IP and anti-counterfeit management among her legal specialisms. Recent deals have seen Mulberry develop its direct-to-customer model with the purchase of three stores in Sweden and five in Australia that were previously owned by franchise partners, while she has facilitated an increase in digital sales, which now represent 30% of group revenue. Meanwhile, 100% of all leather, suede and nappa is sourced from tanneries with environmental accreditations which include Leather Working Group, Sustainable Leather Foundation and ISO:14001.

IP Counsel of the Year sponsored by HGF
Winner: Niccolo Pallesi, Ferretti Group
Highly Commended: IP Superheroes@HUGOBOSS

Lee Curtis, of HGF, and awards judge Tiffani McDonough Solomon, who collected the award on Niccolo Pallesi’s behalf

IP Counsel of the Year  Niccolo Pallesi is general counsel of Ferretti Group and achieved a major landmark when he successfully registered the aquamarine brand colour of luxury yacht brand Riva Yachts with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (IPTO). To achieve this, he needed to prove that there were exceptional circumstances connecting the colour with the brand. It is just one of ten colour marks approved by the IPTO in the last five years, with only two applications having been successful in Class 12 (vehicles).

Legal Team of the Year sponsored by Graff Search
Winner: Belmond
Highly Commended: La Prairie  

Graff Search managing director Maneesha Howard (centre left), with Belmond GC Abbi Hunt (centre right) and her team

Belmond’s legal team, which is led by general counsel Abbi Hunt, was recognised for rolling out a new, and it believes unique, virtual ethics and compliance programme. Its Chez Belmond platform features an immersive, gamified training programme that follows four virtual hotel employees as they encounter real ethics and compliance challenges during their work. It is being made available to all the luxury hotel chain’s employees via an app, and has been translated into 11 languages. One hundred percent of staff who took part in a pilot of Chez Belmond said the training they received made them feel confident to navigate real life ethical issues at work.

Sustainability Initiative of the Year sponsored by McCarthy Tétrault
Winner: Stop Ecocide International

McCarthy Tétrault partner Carmen Franci (left) with Sue Miller, head of Stop Ecocide International's global networks

Stop Ecocide International (SEI) was co-founded in 2017 by barrister Polly Higgins and current executive director Jojo Mehta with the goal of making ecocide an international crime. Higgins — described by The Guardian as “one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement” — died in 2019 from cancer aged 50, but the SEI’s work collaborating with diplomats, politicians, lawyers, business leaders, NGOs, and indigenous and faith groups continues. In April, an important landmark was reached when the European Parliament resolved to start interinstitutional negotiations on the revision of the EU directive on environmental crimes with a mandate to include ecocide in the new legislation.

Fashion Counsel of the Year sponsored by Portolano Cavallo
Winner: Jack Randles, Manolo Blahnik
Highly Commended: Laura Battley, Watches of Switzerland

Portolano Cavallo partner Irene Picciano (left) with Manolo Blahnik’s general counsel Georgina McManus, who collected the award on Randles’ behalf

Since joining Manolo Blahnik in 2017, Jack Randles has established the internal IP and brand protection function, growing in his remit to senior legal counsel for IP and commercial, and then head of legal. During his tenure, Randles has implemented systems and processes to manage more IP internally. Last year, he obtained a positive judgment in a trademark dispute in China which had prevented the brand from trading in the territory since the late 1990s. He is praised by colleagues for an “unending commitment to the strategy and selection of advisors” that culminated in the Supreme Court of China’s decision in the brand’s favour.

Luxury Law Firm of the Year – International Law Firm    
Winner: Baker McKenzie
Shortlist: Baker McKenzie, Bird & Bird, Deloitte Legal, Hogan Lovells, K&L Gates, Morgan Lewis  

Awards judge Tiffani McDonough Solomon with Baker McKenzie’s Julia Dickenson

Baker McKenzie was praised by the judging panel for its strong market position working with outstanding brands on cutting edge matters with a clear commitment to ESG and sustainability. The global firm boasts one of the world’s largest luxury and fashion groups advising brands across their entire product lifecycle. The luxury team is part of the firm’s consumer goods and retail group, which has more than 1,500 practitioners. Highlight deals include advising Puig on its acquisition of a majority stake in Swedish luxury brand Byredo. Initiatives include the publication of its ESG Policy Guide – The Future of Sustainability Legislation for Luxury. An example of its coverage in this field was its work advising a luxury fashion house on implications of the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive; how to pitch ESG internally from a corporate governance perspective; drafting tailored legislative roadmaps on ESG at EU and global level; and mapping of legislations and key legal issues for new technologies.

Luxury Law Firm of the Year – Independent Law Firm    
Winner: Fixer Advisory Group  
Highly Commended: Anand and Anand
Shortlist: Anand and Anand, Cervieri Monsuárez, Fixer Advisory Group, Ivko Law Group, Jadong IP Law Firm, Litvin Marzorati Legales

Awards judge Joanne Loughrey with Phillips Nazro, head of legal and client services, Fixer Advisory Group

Founded by Nicole Marra, former GC of Gucci America, in 2021 Fixer Advisory Group provides legal services through its parent company, Marra Law Group. In 2022 the firm opened an office in New York’s SoHo district, hired seven new employees and more than 10 consultants and added 13 clients to its roster. Deal highlights for the firm, which acts as outside general counsel to six luxury brands as well as others in the fashion and retail space, include representing three luxury clients in leasing flagship locations in New York and representing a market leader in the recommerce space in negotiating commercial partnerships for sustainable, scalable and profitable circular economy solutions. The judging panel said it had a tangible commitment to sustainability and DE&I initiatives that has also had an outstanding year.  

Partner of the Year    
Winner: Danielle N Garno, Holland & Knight (Winner)
Highly Commended: Melanie Howard, Loeb & Loeb
Shortlist: Danielle N Garno, Holland & Knight, Francesco Carloni, K&L Gates, Giuliano Iannaccone, Tarter Krinsky & Drogin, Melanie Howard, Loeb & Loeb, Michael Goldberg, Pryor Cashman, Polina Ivko, Ivko Law Group, Safir Anand, Anand and Anand, Virginia Cervieri, Cervieri Monsuárez

Awards judge Joanne Loughrey (left) and fellow judge Tiffani McDonough Solomon, who collected the award on Danielle Garno’s behalf.    

Based in Holland & Knight’s Miami and Los Angeles offices, Danielle Garno is one of the lead lawyers on the firm’s fashion and luxury goods team. She also serves as a co-chair of the entertainment law team. She counts Cartier, Burberry, Gucci, DvF, H&M, Eton, Havaianas, Retrofête, Miansai, FoundRae and Daniel Patrick among her clients. Highlight work includes advising digital twin platform FIT:MATCH on its partnership with Macy’s, enabling shoppers to use its body scanning technology to match the best-fitting bras for their body shape. She also advised Bulgarian luxury accessories brand BY FAR in negotiating and finalising an agreement establishing celebrity model Kendall Jenner as the face of its Daydream ad campaign. She also lectures in fashion law and is a trustee of Miami-based YoungArts, which identifies talented high-school artist across 10 disciplines. The judges said Garno is as an impressive partner who not only provides exceptional service to her luxury clients on an array of cutting edge matters but is also extremely committed to educating the next generation of luxury lawyers. 

IP Team of the Year    
Winner:  Wolf Greenfield 
Shortlist: Law Partnership, Wolf Greenfield

Awards judge Glenda O’Hara with Wolf Greenfield’s Robert T. Maldonado

The IP team at Wolf Greenfield deployed innovative strategies to secure a 2023 jury win in the US District Court for their client Thom Browne. In January 2023, a Wolf Greenfield team led by IP counsel Robert Maldonado achieved a significant trademark infringement victory on behalf of luxury brand Thom Browne when a jury in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York unanimously agreed that the designer’s four stripes design did not infringe or dilute Adidas’s three-stripe mark. At trial, the Thom Browne team convinced the jury that Browne was inspired by the use of stripes on college varsity sweaters, not by Adidas. Pairing the four-bar sweatpants with dress clothes like suit jackets and other high-end sportswear gave a unique and recognisable Thom Browne twist for his high-end customers. “Mr Browne genuinely cared about this case and the potential impact this case would have on his employees and brand. We believe the jury could see his authentic personality through his presence in the courtroom, as well as through his testimony. This enabled the jurors to associate a brand they may have never heard of before, Thom Browne, with Thom Browne the man,” said Rob Maldonado in an interview with The Global Legal Post.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]