Kate presented the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to Saul Nash, one of a new generation of young designers who are inclusive, sustainable and take inspiration from new sources.
The duchess, who wore an outfit by Edeline Lee, praised the talent she had seen in the clothes created by the young designers she met before the ceremony.
She said: “It is an absolute honour to be here today. I’ve heard so many inspiring stories about Britain’s creativity and seeing such incredible work from many talented designers, well done and congratulations.”
Nash said receiving the award from the duchess was “surreal”, during a ceremony hosted by the British Fashion Council at London’s Design Museum, and described how he was studying performance before being drawn to fashion design.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to create sportswear which challenges preconceived notions around sportswear.
“I don’t really like to dress to occasion, I wear what I like to wear when I like to wear it. So my brand is all about that self-liberation, whether that’s people that like to jog or just dance.
“I guess my job as a designer is always to propose new questions and I guess propose a new direction for people.”
The inaugural award was presented to Richard Quinn in February 2018 when the Queen made her first visit to London Fashion Week.
Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “I think it’s so important to recognise incredible creative talent that we have in the UK.
“Globally we’re known as the leaders in creativity, not just in fashion but across our creative industries, in music, in film, in fashion, in architecture.
“And supporting that and nurturing it and making sure that people are able to stay and build their business in the UK is really important.”
Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, co-chaired the judging panel that selected Nash for the award, and met the duchess during the event.
He said they had talked about the “craftsmanship” associated with the fashion industry and he was “really being proud of what’s going on in Britain, and what we have in Britain is so important – leading the way – and we just have to keep it going”.
But he remained tight-lipped about reports that Kate will soon become become the cover star of his fashion bible.