This year was filled with some truly jaw-dropping headlines in the fashion industry. There were plenty of red carpet looks and new trends to fawn over, but that was just the start. Just consider Rihanna’s quest for world domination by adding a new luxe label to her Fenty empire. From major chains filing for bankruptcy to another round of designer musical chairs, sometimes it was hard to keep track of all the changes going on. We also suffered some losses, including the passing of Karl Lagerfeld.
See below the fashion stories that defined 2019.
Timothée Chalamet: Fashion Icon
The actor made a strong sartorial statement at the very beginning of the year with a custom Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh ensemble at the 2019 Golden Globes. An intense debate followed about whether he was sporting a vest, harness, bib or some post-modern hybrid. Regardless, his look spawned countless memes. Cut to the end of the year when he carried a tiny Eiffel Tower key chain to the Paris premiere of Little Women.
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Calvin Klein Leaves the Runway
This year saw some major changes at Calvin Klein. After Raf Simons parted ways with the brand, Calvin Klein was a no-show at New York Fashion Week Fall 2019 in February. In March, the label announced it was closing its high-end designer collection business, aka Calvin Klein 205W39NYC.
Jennifer Lopez Struts and Shuts Down the Versace Runway
Much to everyone’s delight, Jennifer Lopez closed the Versace Spring 2020 runway show in a reworked version of her iconic Grammys dress. The updated plunging gown was almost sexier than the original and J.Lo even slipped it on a second time while hosting Saturday Night Live.
Gigi Hadid Saves the Day
Gigi Hadid proved she’s just as good of a bodyguard as she is a model during the Chanel Spring 2020 show. French comedian and YouTuber Marie Benoliel, better known as Marie S’Infiltre, tried to blend in with the models on the runway wearing a houndstooth suit. Proper security was slow to react so the supermodel escorted the gatecrasher off the stage. Hadid earned major praise and even inspired a Halloween costume or two.
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No Offense Intended?
Burberry was called out back in February for sending a hoodie with a braided knot drawstring down its Fall 2019 runway that many branded a “noose hoodie.” The brand apologized and said it would focus on diversity initiatives. But that wasn’t the only fashion-related controversy. Gucci was put on blast for releasing a “blackface” turtleneck and Katy Perry came under fire for two “racist” shoe designs in the same month.
Spring 2020 Was the Most Racially Diverse Season Ever
We were happy to report that the Spring 2020 season was the most diverse on record. The runways showed improvements in every category except transgender/non-binary model castings, which were down from the previous season. Brands like Chromat, Christian Siriano and Gypsy Sport led the fashion pack by celebrating diversity in various forms.
We lost some big names this year. In February, Karl Lagerfeld passed away at the age of 85. The sad news came after the designer wasn’t able to appear at the Chanel Spring 2019 Haute Couture show. In June, we lost 95-year-old artist and fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt. Isabel Toledo passed away in August reportedly from breast cancer. Then in October came news that Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki died at the age of 46. Former Balenciaga artistic director Josephus Thimister passed away at 57 in November. And just over the weekend, Cristóbal Balenciaga protégé Emanuel Ungaro died at age 86.
The Resurgence of Bottega Veneta
Daniel Lee breathed new life into Bottega Veneta, putting it on par with brands like Gucci and Chanel. How’d he do it? Accessories. Everyone carried the brand’s Pouch bag at fashion week. And then there were those now ubiquitous square-toe sandals. Lee capped off an amazing year by cleaning up at The Fashion Awards.
Lady Gaga’s Camp-tastic Met Gala Performance
Lady Gaga slayed the gala’s campy theme with not one, not two, but four outfit changes. Now that is how you make an entrance.
Image: John Shearer/Getty Images for THR
Billy Porter Rules the Red Carpet
Billy Porter solidified his status as a major fashion player with dazzling appearances at fashion week and on red carpets. From his tuxedo gown at the Oscars to that extraordinary entrance at the 2019 Met Gala where he was decked out in a bedazzled “Sun God” look by The Blonds and carried in by shirtless men.
Image: Dan MacMedan/Getty Images
Marchesa co-founder Keren Craig announced her departure from the brand in June amid difficult times for the company after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Equally shocking was the news in September that Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia was leaving Vetements saying he had “accomplished his mission” and would continue as creative director at Balenciaga.
Fenty Goes Luxe
No year is complete without a game-changing launch by Rihanna. This year RiRi partnered with LVMH to produce her own luxury brand, simply called Fenty. She made history as the first black woman to head a luxury label for the company. From reimagined cameos to puffer boots, the new label was constantly in the headlines.
The Meghan Markle Effect
The Markle Sparkle is real. Meghan Markle boosted many designers’ profiles and sold out outfits with almost every appearance. After all, the duchess is the reason everyone is wearing belted dresses, J.Crew and Madewell.
Image: Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images
Barneys Files for Bankruptcy
Barneys filed for bankruptcy for the second time in its almost 100-year history. When the news broke in August, many people took to social media to share their feelings. After some drama, a buyer was found and promises of Barneys at Saks started. Liquidation sales began in November, but for many the 5 to 10 percent discounts just added more salt to the wound.
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Zac Posen Shutters His Label
The fashion industry went into shock in November when Zac Posen announced he would be closing his namesake label after almost 20 years in business. The New York designer had dressed everyone from Michelle Obama to Katie Holmes to Oprah Winfrey. R.I.P.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is Officially Canceled
Many saw it coming, but it became official in November when news broke that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was canceled. Not surprising given the controversy, low ratings, etc. Rihanna’s epic Savage x Fenty show during New York Fashion Week was the proverbial nail in the coffin.
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