It seems that with every passing year, the worlds of fashion and pop culture become more closely intertwined, and after 2016, this statement rings truer than ever. Celebrities like Kanye West, Rihanna and Zendaya launched full-blown ready-to-wear collections, some of which hit the runways during fashion month; concert merch by the likes of Drake, The Weeknd and Justin Bieber became some of the most sought-after pieces on the market; top runway models, once handpicked by the industry's most respected editors and photographers, were cast based on social-media followings and/or famous last names; and pop music's biggest artists including Beyoncé and Lady Gaga used their sartorial choices to make both political and social statements — to brilliant effect. While it was not an easy task to keep up with all of the ways fashion and pop culture intersected over the past 12 months, we rounded up the 15 most conversation-starting milestones that had the internet abuzz — and will likely be remembered into the year ahead and beyond.
Beyonce drops surprise 'Lemonade' film
On a Sunday evening in late April, Beyoncé dropped a surprise visual album called "Lemonade" on HBO, which was a feast for both the ears and the eyes. The diverse cast's wardrobe, which was compiled by a team of 36 stylists (headed up by Marni Senofonte), included pieces by Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Givenchy and more. Not only did the incredible clothing and intricate beauty looks lead to a barrage of think pieces across the internet, but they also helped to communicate a message of black female empowerment that inspired women across all generations. Bow down, bitches.
Celebrity children take over the modeling world
It's common sense that celebrity offspring are genetically blessed, but in 2016, famous children really took the modeling industry by storm. Aside from the Jenners, Hadids and Baldwins — easily the most popular of the bunch — dozens of millennial models with recognizable last names hit the scene, from runway to advertising to editorial. Kaia and Presley Gerber, Rafferty Law, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, Willow and Jaden Smith, Dylan Jagger Lee and Jack Kilmer are just a few examples, but we put together a full primer right here.
Fenty Puma by Rihanna debuts at NYFW
Rihanna is known the world over for her off-duty style, so it wasn't too surprising when she and Puma announced that they'd be teaming up for a full-fledged collection, dubbed Fenty Puma by Rihanna, that made its runway debut during New York Fashion Week in February. The streetwear-heavy, goth-inspired fall line featured killer footwear (including best-selling creepers and slide sandals), massively oversize hoodies and body-con separates aplenty, with an all-star cast of models — Stella Maxwell, Bella Hadid, Lexi Boling, Taylor Hill — hitting the runway. The singer-turned-designer brought her Marie Antoinette-themed show to Paris for spring, and thanks to positive retail reception, the collaboration shows no signs of slowing down.
Gigi Hadid teams up with Tommy Hilfiger
When Tommy Hilfiger announced that he'd be collaborating with all-American Instagirl Gigi Hadid on an instantly shoppable collection (with an open-to-the-public, social-media bait-y New York Fashion Week event) for fall, we were a bit skeptical: Could this blatant play for relevance among millennial consumers be a success, we wondered? As it turns out, it could: Much of Hadid's accessibly priced range sold out almost immediately, and Hilfiger is continuing the partnership into 2017, when they'll hold a show in Los Angeles this coming February.
Harry Styles makes post-One Direction debut on 'AnOther Man'
Harry Styles was easily the most stylish member of One Direction, and now that he's transitioning into a career as a solo artist and an actor, he's free to take more risks with his wardrobe. After keeping a relatively low profile following the dissolution of his band, the 22-year-old made a massive comeback with a giant spread (and three separate covers!) for Another Man's fall issue, wearing pieces by Raf Simons, Louis Vuitton, Prada and more. Styles is not shy about mixing masculine and feminine sartorial elements, and tends to favor vintage-inspired pieces that look like they could be from another era, so we're not-so-secretly hoping that Alessandro Michele scoops him up for a Gucci campaign in the year ahead.
Jaden Smith Stars in Louis Vuitton's women's campaign
Jaden Smith (along with his sister, Willow) had an impressive year on the modeling front, but the 18-year-old's most noteworthy moment was his presence in the spring Louis Vuitton womenswear campaign, in which he's dressed in a skirt. This collaboration was instrumental in pushing the conversation about genderless fashion forward, and proved that Smith is an industry force to be reckoned with.
Justin Bieber and Kanye West ignite merch mayhem
There's not much left to be said about the impact of #merch on the fashion industry this year — we even made some ourselves, folks — but we can thank Kanye West and Justin Bieber (with their high-end gear for "The Life of Pablo" and "Purpose," respectively) for igniting the trend that seems to be going strong into 2017.
Lady Gaga's Grammys tribute to David Bowie
Lady Gaga is an unabashed David Bowie fan, and when the iconic rock star passed away in January, she took the first opportunity she could to pay him tribute. She arrived at the Grammy Awards in February wearing a custom Marc Jacobs ensemble (the singer walked the runway at the designer's fall 2016 show) that was a nod to both Ziggy Stardust and Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" album cover. It's a red carpet moment that will certainly go down in history.
Melania Trump's infamous Gucci Pussy Bow
Perhaps one of the most damning (and disgusting) moments of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign was when a 2005 tape of him talking about sexually assaulting women — the exact words were "grab them by the pussy" — leaked to the media. So, when Melania Trump wore a Gucci pussy-bow blouse to a subsequent debate, it raised plenty of eyebrows. Whether she was in on the joke or not is still a mystery, but it was easily one of the most talked-about fashion choices of the year.
Taylor Swift's 'Vogue' Makeover
Squad-leader and master manipulator Taylor Swift started 2016 off strong, collecting supermodel best friends, publicly cavorting around with then-beau Calvin Harris, declaring that "chokers are the new flower crowns" and prepping for her position as a co-chair of the Met Gala. In late April, she debuted an Anna Wintour-approved makeover on the May cover of Vogue, with a bleach-blonde cropped haircut and an edgy, futuristic aesthetic thanks to pieces by Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Vetements. While her beauty look remained, other things went astray for her after the Gala: She and Harris split, reportedly due to a dalliance with Tom Hiddleston at the party (months of staged paparazzi pics of Swift and her new love interest followed), and she had a very public feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West centered around her mention in West's hit "Famous," following a dishy GQ profile. She's kept a low profile in recent months, but we have a feeling she's hiding out somewhere plotting her 2017 comeback with her two cats and a handful of Victoria's Secret Angels.
The #styledbymonicarose phenomenon
If you thought that every Instagirl's off-duty wardrobe looked strikingly similar in 2016, you're right — and Monica Rose is the woman who masterminded the aesthetic. From lace-up, body-con dresses and crop tops to sporty bombers and chokers, the Los Angeles-based stylist had a hand in creating looks for some of the biggest names in fashion and entertainment this year, including Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Chrissy Teigen, Chanel Iman and Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian. To say she's one of the most influential stylists in the game right now would be a vast understatement, and we expect her star to rise even more in 2017.
Vetements's Viral 'Titanic' sweatshirt
If there was one piece of clothing that achieved "viral" street-style status this year, it was the "Titanic" sweatshirt from Vetements's fall collection. Not only did fans scramble to scoop the item up after Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar in February, but celebrities of all ages also couldn't get enough of it, from Celine Dion to Whoopi Goldberg. Considering the hoodie version retailed for over $1,000, it's slightly mind-boggling that it flew off shelves. But as Net-a-Porter's Sarah Rutson told editors at her recent seasonal buying presentation, there is "no ceiling" when it comes to Vetements: whatever stock she invests in will sell out.
Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden
Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 presentation at Madison Square Garden — which doubled as an album release party for "The Life of Pablo" — was an event of epic, historical proportions. Not only were tickets made available to the public for fans (it was also live-streamed on Tidal for those unable to attend), but the show also brought the worlds of music and fashion together like few designers had ever done before. Pablo merch was immediately available for sale, which proved that West had the consumer at top of mind; and while the actual collection wasn't exactly groundbreaking — or very good at all, really — it was clear from the get-go that the clothing was just background noise.
Young Thug's 'Jeffery' album cover
In his fall Calvin Klein campaign spot, Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug spoke openly about his thoughts on androgyny in fashion, saying: "In my world, of course, it don't matter; you could be a gangster with a dress or you could be a gangster with baggy pants... I feel like there's no such thing as gender." (He models a dress in the print ads, as well.) But Thugger's most conversation-starting sartorial moment of the year was when he wore a tiered, Japanese-inspired gown by Alessandro Trincone — one of the VFiles designers — on the cover of his "Jeffery" record, pushing the boundaries of masculine-meets-feminine fashion more than most rappers would dare.
Zayn and Gigi Hadid become 'Vogue' official
Ah, young love! While Gigi Hadid and Zayn kept their budding romance relatively under wraps at the beginning, they made one hell of a public debut in the form of a Vogue editorial, shot in Naples by Mario Testino for the May issue of the magazine. Though many initially cast this couple off as a mere publicity stunt, the pair is still going strong — their love is one of the few beautiful things that 2016 didn't destroy.