Welcome to our virtual yearbook — complete with fashion's favorite contenders, from the most popular (Nicholas Kirkwood, we're looking at you) to the best looking (hello, Choupette!). Plus, the unexpected surprises — moments you may have forgotten…or would like to forget (the Zac Posen slap, for one).
So, join us on our look back on 2012: A year of nostalgia and innovation, unforgettable quotes and faces, revivals and relaunches, doors both opening and closing, and, of course, that whole hot-dog debacle.
Now, who wants to sign our yearbook?
The Nasty Gal Empire
— What started as an eBay store has become a global (and blogger) phenomenon, and managed to achieve an 11,200%
increase in profit in just three years. With a clothing line, a high-visibility website, and a magazine
, 2012 was the year Sophia Amoruso became a (fashion) household name.
Photo: Courtesy of Nasty Gal
Introducing Saint Laurent
— The man formerly known for his role at Dior Homme quickly turned into one of the most talked-about people in fashion. Hedi Slimane then proceeded to enact a major rebrand and
name change, turning
SL into commercial (if not critical)
Photo: Courtesy of Saint Laurent Paris
Michelle Obama Steals Our Hearts, Again — Poised, confident, and elegant, MObama would have easily stolen the show if the presidential race was based on style alone. Though we kept our fingers on the election pulse, we couldn't take our eyes off of the first lady as she knocked it out of the park, again and again.
Photo: Courtesy of Barack Obama's Flickr
— True, the disaster didn't have a direct
fashion impact. Yet, all of NYC felt Sandy's wrath, and that includes designers, boutiques, and, hey, us, too
. The capital of American fashion was forced to regroup, take stock, and face a city forever changed.
Photography by Atisha Paulson
Fashion Showers With ADR
— While Anna Dello Russo has been a street-style favorite for some time now, the eccentric editor behind Vogue Japan
couldn't be stopped in '12. From a collaboration with Macy's
to a "fashion shower
," courtesy of H&M
, ADR's quirk and élan proved there was more than just one editor named Anna for which to reckon with.
Photo: Courtesy of H&M
Those Isabel Marant Sneakers
— That oversized tongue. Those velcro flaps. And, wait, is that a wedge
heel? Isabel Marant's high-tops are now ubiquitous
with effortlessness and spunk...our two favorite things.
Photo: Courtesy of Net-A-Porter
Diane Kruger Takes Cannes
— When we saw Diane's first outfit, we thought she nailed it. The second, well, we weren't so surprised with her elegance. But by look five or six, we realized we were witnessing some serious red-carpet history
. The entire festival, for which she opened and closed, seemed to almost exist just to show off the actress' impeccable taste: Giambattista Valli, Dior, Versus, and more. We are still
smitten...can you tell?
Photo: David Fisher/Rex USA
Miley Cyrus Gets Chopped — Look, we'll be the first to admit that Miley Cyrus has never been our definition of a fashion powerhouse. But when the former teen star traded in her luscious locks for an edgy, no-holds-barred buzz, we were impressed with her chutzpah. Apparently, we weren't the only ones — our site very nearly crashed when curious readers wanted to get a glimpse of the moment the star grew up and got a little bit punk.
Photo: Via Miley Cyrus' Twitter
Indie Shoe Designers Take A Bow
— Nicholas Kirkwood, Charlotte Olympia, Brian Atwood. In a world once ruled by Louboutins and Jimmy Choos, these young designers have put their indelible (foot)print on accessory design. This was the year of extreme shoes
, after all.
Photo: Courtesy of Nicholas Kirkwood
Margiela For H&M — Remember when fashion collaborations first started, and a sheer frenzy would erupt with enthusiasts trying to nab pieces from Proenza x Target, Versace for H&M, and Christopher Kane's Topshop collection? That was the level of excitement for H&M's massive Margiela offering, with some designs so strange, many wondered if they would ever sell. (The jury is still out on that.)
Photo: Courtesy of H&M
So Long, Nicolas Ghesquière
— Due to his popularity and critical acclaim, the fashion world was entirely surprised when Nicolas Ghesquière announced he was resigning at Balenciaga. Immediately, the rumors started: Who will replace him? What's his next move? Well, we've solved the first question
, but we are still waiting to hear what Ghesquière's next step might be.
Photo: Rex USA
— Oh, Karl Lagerfeld, just when we think you can't get anymore, well, Karl Lagerfeld
. The hula-hoop bag was meant as a novelty item, but its popularity — which ranged from massive DIYs to Anderson Cooper tributes
— forced Chanel to make a small, marketable version. Social media shaping fashion
Photo: Courtesy of Chanel
Bangladesh Factory Horror — Here is 2012's very own Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, a terrible tragedy in Bangladesh in November that claimed the lives of 112 people due to incredible workplace negligence. Highlighting the labor practices of retailers like Sears and Target, the massive fire exposed the conditions workers must endure in order to bring us our garments.
Photo: iStock Photo
The Rise Of Kate Upton — Who'da thought a Sports Illustrated cover could have changed the entire face of modeling? Thanks to her incredible curves, chameleon-like looks, and insane sex appeal, Kate Upton has proved that the supermodel profession is certainly alive and well.
Image: Via Sports Illustrated
Rookie: Yearbook One — Tavi Gevinson has proved, without a doubt, that she is perfectly capable ruling the world — or at least the pro-lady, well-heeled, high-school-flavored section of it. Rookie has given us a great example of how web content can move from the screen to the coffee table.
Photo: Courtesy of Rookie
Some Impossible Conversations
— With the opening of the Schiaparelli exhibit at the MET this year, the fashion world was reminded of something it often forgets: Fashion is meant to be strange, imaginative, and, most importantly, art. While it was no McQueen
, the renewed interest in the hallowed label has lead to its relaunch...and a whole new group of Schiaparelli converts.
Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum Of Art
Coach's Unexpected "It" Bag — Forget Baguettes, PS1s, and Diego Buckets, the bag that took 2012 by storm was an unexpected and effortless treat. The Bleecker Bag is like a perfect storm: celebrity-approved, easy-to-carry, and under $400. No wonder we saw it — and a brighter, bolder Coach — everywhere this year.
Photo: Courtesy of Coach
Um...Kristen Stewart? — Before 2012, the Twilight star certainly had a red-carpet presence, but it was nothing to write home about. And then, if you may recall, KStew was caught up in a bit of a scandal, turning her into the most watched woman in Hollywood. So, with a Balenciaga deal to back her up, she turned the media frenzy into a red-carpet showdown. Premiere after premiere, she brought it, demonstrating that the best way to clean up your act is with a whole lot of very beautiful clothing.
Photo: Courtesy of Balenciaga
The Slap Heard 'Round The World
— Sometimes, being involved in fashion makes us awfully proud. Sometimes, unfortunately, it does not. When a catfight broke out at Zac Posen's spring 2013 show
's Jennifer Eymere and HL Group's Lynn Tesoro over seating
, anyone who has ever been near a fashion show simultaneously cringed. Eep.
Photo: Richard Young/Rex USA
Lady Gaga's Fame
— Despite her promises, Lady Gaga's perfume didn't smell anything like blood and semen
, but instead belladonna and incense. What she didn't reneg on, however, was a crazy fragrance promotion that culminated in a lot of Versace
and a lunch with Julian Assange
Photo: Courtesy of Haus Laboratories
Choupette Arrives! — Karl Lagerfeld is not known for being kind, soft, and gentle. But when it comes to the Kaiser's beloved kitten (who is, by now, an adult cat), he suddenly turned into a doting parent, even stocking up Choupette with an iPad and two (!) maids of her own.
Photo: Via Karl Lagerfeld's Twitter
Karl Lagerfeld Is A Honey Badger
— And he doesn't care what you, or anyone else, thinks. In a year full of crazy Karl quips and shockers, anyone tuned in to the Chanel creative director took everything The Kaiser said with a grain of salt. For instance, his February musing to Metro
included this eye-roller of a gem: "The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.” Yep, he said that.
Photo: David Fisher/Rex USA
House Of Style Relaunches
— The iconic '90s show returned in 2012
, hoping to capture the same zeitgeist of MTV's original. Instead of Cindy Crawford, Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss shared hosting duties, and instead of appearing on MTV, the show is now only available on the web. The talent is certainly there, but those Salt-n-Pepa "office-dressing" moments, sadly, are not.
Photo: John Shearer/Invision for MTV
Designers Get Political — Fashion and politics, as Anna Wintour proved this year with her incredible fundraising abilities, certainly do mix. Taking up Obama as a cause, sought-after designers like Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, and Monique Péan gave the president their seal of approval.
Photo: Courtesy of BarackObama.com
Azealia Banks, Fashion Crush
— Where wasn't Azealia Banks this year? Playing for Karl Lagerfeld, scoring MAC endorsements, modeling for ASOS, even hanging out at our Fashion Week party
— Banks (and her musical prowess) seemed to be everywhere in 2012. You go, girl.
Photo: Courtesy of ASOS
Royal Fashion Worth Caring About — True, the wedding was last year, but with the world obsessed with Kate Middleton, the Royal Jubilee, and the appearance of so many great hats, the monarchy across the pond has finally followed in the footsteps of Princess Di and become fashion royalty, too.
Photo: Rex USA
Hey, Lana Del Rey — The hair, that pout, the front row at Mulberry — can you believe that, this time last year, most of us didn't know the name Lana Del Rey? Now, she has an entire look (that seductive retro-glam) practically trademarked.
Photo: Courtesy of H&M
The Real Glamour Of Girls — No longer are ladies wondering if they'd be a Samantha, Carrie, Miranda, or Charlotte. The aughts have ended. In their place is a much more modern, awkward, honest, fumbling, and revelatory group of archetypes, embodied by the characters of Lena Dunham's HBO show Girls. While we all wish we had Jessa's style and Marnie's hair, we realize, hey, we are all a little bit of Hannah, too.
Photo: Courtesy of HBO
Those Dolce & Gabbana Earrings
— Though, apparently the hanging "mammy" heads
of Dolce's spring 2013 collection weren't meant to offend, simply seeing them dangle off of model's lobes proved that — when dealing with something as global as fashion — sensitivity
is always needed.
The Gangnam's All Here
— Psy's mockingly infectious global hit
not only swept dance floors and TV shows, but it also gave a glimpse of the type of over-the-top style that has landed in South Korea. That, and it was an interesting counterpoint to K-Pop
Photo: Courtesy of Youtube
— The Olympics, that royal baby, stellar U.K. designers — London is the place we dreamt most about this year. In fact, we felt so strongly about it, we launched our very own R29 London
. (Shameless plug, we know.)
Photo: Courtesy of Refinery29
Rising Star Start-Ups — Hey, we can't help but celebrate the year of innovative fashion start-ups, like Pose, Lyst, and Poshly. These are the next Pinterests and Instagrams, and you heard it here first.
Photo: Courtesy of Pose
Ins And Outs At Jil Sander — While revolving doors seemed to be the theme of 2012, Raf Simons' departure at Jil Sander was particularly unique, because Jil actually returned to her namesake. As for Raf...he went to a little label known as Dior.
Photo: Via Dior Magazine
CR Fashion Book Is (Re)Born — Hey, here's an idea: Did kohl-eyed Carine Roitfeld precipitate the great editorial jumble of 2012? She seemed to have the idea first, leaving French Vogue at the end of last year. Yet, it was '12 that saw Roitfeld's vision in its entirely, with her launching her own magazine...which every editor under the sun promptly purchased.
Photo: Courtesy of CR Fashion Book
Zelda Kaplan Departs In Style
— Beloved style icon Zelda Kaplan, known for her eclectic and whimsical sense of self, left us this year
. Though the world is less bright without her in it, the symbolism of the youthful nonagenarian shuffling off this mortal coil while seated front row is one she would certainly enjoy.
Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages
Man Repeller No More
— The idea behind Leandra Medine's style blog, Man Repeller, is that she wore what she wanted, even if it was so wacky and high fashion no man would possibly understand it. But apparently financier Abie Cohen wasn't repelled
— and the two got hitched. In true MR form, the bride wore Marchesa...and a motorcycle jacket.
Photo: Courtesy of The Man Repeller
Karlie Kloss, New Classic — Deep breath: Karlie Kloss walked in more shows than we attended, launched her own line of baked goods, revamped House Of Style, landed a TV campaign with Target, is a VS Angel, and was a Vogue covergirl twice, all in 2012. Which makes our year-long goal of "working out more" seem pretty weak in comparison.
Photo: Courtesy of YouTube
The Great Editorial Shake-Up: Cosmo, Elle, Vogue, T magazine, Wall Street Journal...if you read it, a leading editor probably left it and another one came in to replace them. A brief reminder: Kristina O'Neill to WSJ where former editor Deborah Needleman went to T, and T editor Sally Singer went to Vogue, and French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld went to Harper's and...wait, we lost count.
Photo: Courtesy of Elle
Target Gets Indie — Target hit innovative strides when the big-box retailer broke the collaboration mold and asked local favorites — Miami's The Webster, New York's Odin, S.F.'s The Curiosity Shoppe, to name a few — to launch their own diffusion lines.
Photo: Courtesy of Target
Grace Coddington Has A Moment
— Thanks to '09's The September Issue,
the world outside of fashion learned about the frizzy redhead powerhouse behind Anna Wintour. Yet in '12, Grace-philia reached a fever pitch. Coddington covered magazines, created her own Balenciaga cat bag, and released a memoir
— all while leaving us entirely charmed.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
— Once, "Oh, I totally re-pinned you!" would have sounded like an unfortunate accident. But, in 2012, one service aimed to turn the entire web into a moving, organic inspiration board, matured from a fad to a full-blown phenomenon. Fashion lovers took to the site like a charm, and Pinterest became home to loads of covetable braids, nail art, shoe-stalking, and puppies in hats.
Photo: Via Refinery29's Pinterest Board
Anything But Average Denim — Boyfriend jeans are a given. Printed denim is a must. Anything with rips, dyes, slouches, cuffs, or treatments goes. In fact, basic blues almost doesn't exist anymore. (Almost.)
Photo: Courtesy of Urban Outfitters
Elizabeth Olsen, Our New Favorite — It officially goes without saying that Mary-Kate and Ashley are fully ingrained into the fashion world (just ask the CFDA), which is fine with us. Now, we can swoon over the sophisticated style and serious chops of their baby sister. Here you have it: ingenue dressing done right.
Photo: Matt Baron BEImages
The Whole Age Question
— When Vogue denounced its usage of underage models
earlier this year, we were skeptical, and for good reason, because only one month later, the magazine's Chinese edition ran a cover with a gal under 18. And CFDA member Marc Jacobs kept sending them down the catwalk — so did Thakoon, ODLR, and Diesel. So, tiny steps...we guess.
Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
Fuzzy Céline Pumps — Phoebe Philo might have been making a comment about needing soft, enveloping comfort when she walks. Or, she could have had a horrible muppet vendetta. Either way, these cartoonish shoes left us both intrigued and flabbergasted.
Photo: MCV Photo
The Resurrection Of Kenzo
— You couldn't throw a rock without hitting a blogger or editor in a Kenzo sweater or hat this year, and while the brand's resurgence owes a lot to Opening Ceremony, its New Era collaboration
certainly put baseball caps back on the fashion map.
Photo: Courtesy of Opening Ceremony
Smells Like Grunge Redux — Revivals are always a thing in fashion, but when Dries van Noten, House of Holland, and Phillip Lim (to name a few) chicly matched slouchy fits, plaid, and a couple of Kurt-inspired sunnies, this revamp turned into a full-on reinvention. Suddenly, the word "grunge" means anything but.
Photo: MCV Photo