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The Breakout Fashion Industry Stars of 2012

Who stood out in fashion this year? From the most buzzed about model to the hotspot no one saw coming to the coolest new French brand, read on for who we think made the biggest splash in the fashion industry in 2012.

Who stood out in fashion this year?

From the most buzzed about model to the hotspot no one saw coming to the coolest new French brand, read on for who we think made the biggest splash in the fashion industry in 2012.

Breakout Model-Slash: Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne’s outstanding year was full of many firsts. The English stunner

Breakout Designer: Gregory Chait/The Elder Statesman

Industry heavyweights always like to wage their bets for the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. This year, popular opinion pegged industry faves SUNO or Wes Gordon for the win. Enter The Elder Statesman's Gregory Chait, who stunned onlookers by proving to be the competition’s true underdog. He took home the fund’s top prize for his line The Elder Statesman—an expensive Cali-cool brand of cashmere basics. Suddenly, all eyes were turned towards his hippie knits.

Breakout Muse: Azealia Banks

Cool ‘fashion worthy’ music acts hit the scene by the handful each year. However, in 2012 Azealia Banks proved to be the one with the most star power. After releasing her first single “212” in March, Banks quickly became Alexander Wang’s new muse, soon appearing in advertisements for his T diffusion line over the summer (he later took her to the Met Ball). Additional campaign work for ASOS followed suit, along with a headlining performance at M.A.C. Cosmetics’s SoHo flagship on Fashion’s Night Out. Oh, and then there was that time she performed for Karl Lagerfeld.

Breakout Cool New Job: Moving from Editorial to Brand

It takes a lot of balls to suddenly pack up your career as a visionary editor to go

Breakout Pet: Choupette Lagerfeld


Breakout Accessory: The Oversized Floppy Hat

Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for Saint Laurent Paris in March was the subject of widespread attention and controversy. His designs, heavily influenced by Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking and safari moments from the '70s, shaped up to be the rock star uniform du jour, worn by everyone from Keith Richards to Gwen Stefani on the

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Breakout Feud Tactic: The Open Letter

The open letter, an age-old scandalizing tactic, made a major comeback in 2012. First came Oscar de la Renta’s full-page open letter to New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn, in which he called her a "stale 3-day old hamburger" after she called him “far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion” in her review of his spring show.

Then came Hedi Slimane’s take on the format, his created on some ancient looking computer program (MS Paint?). Again taking aim at Horyn, Slimane blasted the critic for her consistently biased views of his work, and tweeted out the neo-gothic-designed note to his 32,000 followers.

Weeks later, Horyn’s boyfriend Art Ortenberg wrote a note to WWD, in defense of his girlfriend.

Then came Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve’s take on the format, writing to the trade paper with his own thoughts on the Simons/Slimane rivalry—prompted by WWD editor Miles Socha’s take on the two designers' slippery relationship.

Breakout TV Star: Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele

HBO’s recent documentary,

Breakout Unknown Internet Star: The Model from Band of Outsider’s Window Simulcast

Band of Outsiders is pretty much the coolest preppy brand around. The label decided to get a little wacky for Paris Men’s Fashion Week over the summer. They tasked an unsuspecting model with the job of being a viral art installation at an

Breakout Store: Fivestory

The Upper East Side gained a new fashion confidant this year with the opening of Fivestory—a retail concept spearheaded by 26-year old entrepreneur and lifelong New Yorker Claire Distenfeld. The store celebrated its inception with a splashy opening and racks plush with hard-to-find labels from Europe and beyond. A lengthy profile in New York Magazine soon followed, toasting Distenfeld as the nouveau fashion force of the town.

Breakout Politico: Anna Wintour

Ambassadorship or not, Anna Wintour sealed her status as a political influencer in 2012. Think about it, it’s a pretty big deal when the President considers you for a position thanks to the exemplary fundraising you did for his most recent campaign. In Wintour’s case, that work included massive dinners at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house in addition to her own Greenwich Village residence. Her efforts help raise over $500,000 for Obama’s re-election campaign--and her Runway to Win designer shop raised over $40 million.

Breakout Fashion Enthusiast: Prince Charles

While it’s often Prince Harry who steals the most tantalizing royal-related headlines, his dad Prince Charles sent fashion tails a-wagging in 2012 with his various sartorial do-good actions. Charles launched the first-ever London Collections menswear shows with a cocktail reception held in June. Months later, he sent a flock of sheep to New York’s Bryant Park to draw attention to his Campaign for Wool. And just this week, it was announced that Charles helped design a special line of socks, aptly named Corgi, to help celebrate his mother’s 60th anniversary on the throne.