We'll cut right to the chase: A lot of crazy shit happened in the fashion world this year. While our industry can sometimes seem isolated and fantastical, many of its key players and events made headlines even in the mainstream media over the course of 2011.
Since January 1, we've seen our share of ups and downs: There have been exciting new beginnings and tragic falls from grace. A royal wedding and a Sarah Burton for McQueen dress captivated the world, while Galliano's dress for Kate Moss made the fashion world swoon. We've celebrated the return of older models—like when 46-year-old Kristen McMenamy wore a bikini on the cover of Vogue Italia—and saw plenty of controversy surrounding very young ones. Just when we thought the boundaries of gender identity were breaking for good and that Lea T could kiss Kate Moss
1. The John Galliano scandal:
When reports arose in February that John Galliano went on an anti-Semitic rant at a bar in Paris—and later, when video evidence of the designer saying "I love Hitler" surfaced on the Internet—we're not sure that anyone knew how profound an effect his actions would have on the industry as a whole. Galliano was immediately suspended, and subsequently fired, from his 14-year post at Christian Dior, and was later let go from his eponymous label as well. This launched a vicious cycle of rumors regarding his replacement, and no big name has been left unconsidered, from Marc Jacobs to Riccardo Tisci to Alexander Wang. One of the most surprising aspects of this story is that over a dozen designers have reportedly been offered Galliano's job, yet no one has accepted it. The fate of Dior still hangs in the balance, but hopefully this will be one of the first conundrums solved in 2012.
2. Emmanuelle Alt takes over Vogue Paris:
When Carine Roitfeld resigned her post at Vogue Paris late last year, to say that we were devastated would be a gross understatement. The woman is irreplaceable! Alas, someone had to take her place, and after months of speculation, Emmanuelle Alt was named her successor. The magazine's former fashion director chose Gisele to cover the April issue—her first as editor-in-chief—and the result was, well, a little boring. From the beginning of her reign, Alt claimed that she had no plans to change French Vogue or take it in a more commercial direction, but that remains to be seen.
3. Christophe Decarnin leaving Balmain:
Fall 2011 Fashion Week in Paris was dramatic enough with the whole Galliano situation unfolding, but things got even darker when the creative mind behind Balmain was not present at his show in March, reportedly due to a nervous breakdown that landed him in a mental hospital. It wasn't long before it was revealed that Decarnin had been absent from the label for months—likely due to creative differences with the brand's management—and that the collection was taken over by his in-house team and stylist Melanie Ward. The young (and very hot) Balmain womenswear designer Olivier Rousteing was promptly promoted to fill Decarnin's position, but news of his departure and his possible buckling under the pressure of his position came as a very sad shock.
4. The Stefano Pilati/YSL rumors:
In the midst of an already tumultuous Fall 2011 Fashion Week in Paris, a single cryptic tweet from @KenzoPR ignited rumors that Stefano Pilati was out at YSL, and that Hedi Slimane might be in line to take his place. Pilati's future at YSL had already been shaky for a couple of seasons, so the fashion flock wasted no time in calling out potential replacements for him—Olivier Theyskens, Haider Ackermann, and Raf Simons being the front-runners. Especially in conjunction with the vacancy John Galliano left at Dior, this news had the industry reeling for weeks, despite the fact that YSL PR assured the public that Pilati's contract was in tact. Months later in September, Suzy Menkes suggested in the New York Times that Raf Simons might be replacing Pilati after all, but as far as we know, he's safe—at least for now.
5. Lady Gaga becomes fashion's biggest muse:
It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that Mother Monster was the most influential figure in fashion this year. In March, she walked the runway for her BFF and stylist Nicola Formichetti's first womenswear show for Thierry Mugler, and that was just the beginning. Since then, she's covered Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, penned a column in V, had free reign of the Versace archives for her "Edge of Glory" music video, got her own holiday workshop at Barneys New York, and published an intimate book of photos from her epic Monster Ball tour, shot by Terry Richardson. Lucky for you, little monsters, Lady Gaga shows no sign of slowing down in 2012.
6. Kimbra Lo and co. speak out against Dov Charney:
We're willing to bet that the popular public opinion regarding American Apparel's CEO Dov Charney is that he's a total creep, and the fact that a number of women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment this year does not help his cause. Ex-AA employee Irene Morales was the first file a $250 million lawsuit and to present evidence of "forced sex" in the form of dirty e-mails, photos, and texts. Kimbra Lo spoke out next, followed by a slew of other young alleged victims. Both Morales and Lo visited the Today Show separately to share their stories, and we don't know about you, but this whole debacle certainly made American Apparel's looming bankruptcy seem like a cakewalk.
7. Kate Middleton's Alexander McQueen wedding dress:
On Friday, April 29th, Katherine Middleton married Prince William at Westminster Abbey, wearing a one-of-a-kind wedding gown by Sarah Burton. The speculation surrounding the dress was pretty insane—the McQueen camp adamantly denied any involvement in creating the Duchess of Cambridge's gown, and bookies in the UK probably made a killing from people betting on who the designer would be. The legendary garment went on display at Buckingham Palace over the summer, and it drew a record-breaking crowd of over 600,000 people. Over 650,000 people stood in long lines to see the McQueen retrospective at the Met. Now, Burton is one of the most famous fashion designers in the world. Kate's choice to wear Alexander McQueen was not only a triumph for British fashion, but also an incredible tribute to the late designer who had passed away the previous year.
8. Jenna Lyons comes under fire:
The J. Crew creative director, one of our personal fashion heros, made headlines multiple times this year, thanks to Fox News and gossip rags. The first was when Fox News freaked out about a photo in a J. Crew catalog of Lyons painting her son Beckett's toenails neon pink. They claimed that Lyons was doing harm to her son and to society as a whole by encouraging Beckett to "abandon all trappings of gender identity." Right. Moving on. In a second, completely unrelated story (although the folks at Fox News might disagree on that), news broke in October that Lyons was in the midst of a messy divorce, and that she had taken up with another woman—Philip Crangi's sister and biz partner Courtney. Jenna and J.Crew also made headlines when they showed at New York Fashion Week for the first time--much to our, Beyonce's, and every critic's delight.
9. Andrej Pejic being named the 98th sexiest woman in the world by FHM and the backlash:
The fact that the androgynous male model had been named #98 on FHM's list of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World flew relatively under the radar, likely because Andrej's entry was mysteriously absent from the magazine's website. Eventually, a screenshot of the scathing article surfaced, in which the author calls Andrej a "thing" and says that he needed a "sick bucket" when he heard that the model had aspirations of becoming a Victoria's Secret model. Following the inevitable shitstorm, the publication ended up apologizing, citing a lack of copy editing as the reason that the piece ran in the first place. Whatever you say, guys. This atrocity came on the heels of an equally infuriating story, in which Barnes & Noble forced Dossier to censor its cover that featured a topless Pejic at the magazine's own expense.
10. The YSL vs. Christian Louboutin "Red Soles" suit:
So this happened—famed shoe designer
11. Kate Moss' wedding:
It's obvious that no wedding in the UK could top that of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2011, but one came pretty damn close: Kate Moss and Jamie Hince tied the knot on July 1 with a celebration that was fondly referred to as "Mosstock." The bride wore a bohemian, intricately embroidered gown by John Galliano, who made a controversial appearance in Moss' Mario Testino-shot wedding portraits that ran as an exclusive in the September issue of Vogue. With guests like Daphne Guinness, Carine Roitfeld, Marc Jacobs, and Lara Stone, and an angelic group of flower girls that included Moss' daughter Lila Grace and supermodel-to-be little sister Lottie, the three-day event was a fashion fairy tale.
12. The Elle Fanning effect:
This was the year of the "It" girls that are actually girls, and little Elle Fanning started it all. After becoming an industry darling after starring in the 2010 Sofia Coppola flick Somewhere, she's been featured in a Rodarte short film for Nowness, shared a Vogue spread with Natalia Vodianova, landed the covers of LOVE and W, and scored the Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 ad campaign. When she's not making movies, she's busy promoting them, and her red carpet choices range from sweet frocks by Marc Jacobs and Marchesa to more mature pieces from Valentino and Chanel—yes, she already has the Karl Lagerfeld seal of approval. Mark our words: This was just the first of many amazing years ahead for the 13-year-old. Good thing she has teen dynamo editor Tavi Gevinson and her new site Rookie to chronicle her life.
13. The rise and fall of @CondeElevator:
On August 6th, an anonymous tweeter who claimed that he or she was a Condé Nast employee, started sharing gossipy tidbits overheard in the elevators of the famed 4 Times Square. The conversations that occurred were almost too juicy to be true—vapid, snooty, catty, eating disorder-oriented—and the Twitter account amassed a whopping 60,000 followers in less than a week. The corporate folks at Condé Nast were not amused by the stunt, and a widely publicized witch hunt to find the culprit began. @CondeElevator was shut down a mere six days after it appeared, but the industry will likely remember this genius attempt at rebellion for a long time—not unlike @NoBtotheS who rose to fashion PR fame in 2010.
14. The Thylane Blondeau modeling scandal:
Carine Roitfeld found herself in some hot water for a sultry spread featuring very young girls in the Tom Ford-edited December/January 2011 issue of Vogue Paris. One of the models was 10-year-old French stunner
15. The Jours Après Lunes lingerie line for children:
When we broke the news about a
16. Missoni for Target mass hysteria:
With its colorful zig-zags, Missoni is easily one of the most recognizable brand names in the world, as well as one of the most expensive. So, when the label announced that it would design a 400-piece collection for Target, the world rejoiced. The demand for the products was so great that shoppers crashed the Target site almost immediately after the collaboration was put up for sale in September, and the retailer ultimately oversold its stock. Needless to say, customers were furious despite Target's many attempts at doing damage control. This, paired with the appearance of $31,000 rainboots from the collection on eBay, all adds up to the biggest retail fail of 2011.
17. Kanye West's fashion show bomb:
2011 was the year of the Kanye West fashion rumors. First, he was going to enroll in the prestigious masters program at Central Saint Martins in London. Next, there were whispers of the rapper showing a Spring 2012 collection at New York Fashion Week with the help of Louise Wilson. And then came the talk of Raf Simons leaving Jil Sander to join forces with West on his new endeavor. After all of the speculation, what actually came about was an exclusive runway show in Paris, and one of the most critically slammed collections since Lindsay Lohan's stint at Ungaro. Although every editor and buyer of importance was in attendance, the ill-fitting clothing and the collection's lack of focus far overshadowed West's star power.
18. Hailee Steinfeld's "irresponsible" Miu Miu ads:
The 14-year-old True Grit star has not only earned some serious critical acclaim on account of her acting chops, but on her sense of style as well. It all started back in January when she wore a striped Prada dress from the label's Spring 2011 collection to the SAG Awards, and it wasn't long before she was sitting front row at Fashion Week, covering LOVE magazine, and signing on as the Fall 2011 face of Miu Miu. We'll admit, her ads weren't particularly exciting, but that doesn't mean they didn't catch some flack. First, people were upset that a young girl was dressed in a manner suited for a much older woman, and in November, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency banned one of the "irresponsible" ads that features Hailee sitting on an abandoned railroad track. Did Hailee let that drama get her down? No way—she just took a little trip to Disneyland with her BFF Tavi.
19. Komplete Kardashian overload:
A day could not go by in 2011 without some sort of Kardashian coverage, and come to think of it, it seemed like every new product released this year had these ladies hacking it. Due to their less-than-stellar taste level, they stayed relatively far removed from the fashion heavy hitters—until recently. In the last 12 months, they've knocked off designer bags for their Kardashian Kollection at Sears, made false claims about the Skechers line of "Shape-ups" shoes, created a media frenzy around Kim's Vera Wang wedding dress, and tried to preen their half sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner for the cutthroat world of runway modeling. Our parting message to the Kardashians as 2011 comes to a close? Kut the krap.
20. The global Fashion Calendar fiasco:
What better way to end a year than to have an all-out war between all of the major Fashion Week cities? Long story short, New York Fashion Week planned to push back a week so that design teams wouldn't have to work on Labor Day, and Milan subsequently scheduled their fashion week so thatit would clash with London and New York. Obviously, this is a huge problem, and it didn't take long before things started getting really catty. Stubborn Milan wanted to announce its own dates—"let the best Fashion Week win," they said—which led Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse to announce that every international Vogue editor would boycott the Milan shows if they moved earlier. Eventually, Milan caved—with a few conditions, mind you—but we're guessing this situation will probably continue to rear its ugly head sometime in 2012. Here's to the new year!