Whether it is designers building budding young labels, such as Telfar Clemens, creatives fashioning new takes on existing publications, such as Amy Astley, who is revamping the 97-year old Architectural Digest for a new generation of readers, or some of the longstanding tastemakers, such as Helmut Lang, Brunello Cuccinelli, P. Diddy, and even Lil’ Kim, who continue to make waves in fashion, TFL looked at all of them. Here are some of the individuals that came under our microscope in 2017.
1. Telfar: A Perfectly Modern Fashion Brand. “It's not for you — it's for everyone.” That is the tagline upon which Telfar operates. Founded by Telfar Clemens in 2005 – when he was 15 years old as “a DIY means of dressing himself and his friends” – the brand is, in Clemens’ own words, a “horizontal, democratic, universal” label responsible for putting forth unisex garments that are all about the details ... and about something larger than merely clothing.
2. One of Fashion's Most Prominent Investors is Someone You May Never Have Heard of. In nearly every industry, a small number of powerful individuals tend to have their hands in an array of different inter-industry ventures, thereby dictating both the micro and macro course and narrative. In fashion, Bernard Arnault, François-Henri Pinault, and Johann Rupert, the respective chairmen of LVMH, Kering, and Richemont, come to mind immediately, as do the various publishing giants and venture capital notables. One name that surprisingly often goes unmentioned: Carmen Busquets.
3. Lil' Kim: A Bona Fide Style Icon, But More Than Just a Force in Fashion. To be frank, she was “the first high-profile female rapper to flip the script on female objectification in the rap industry. She set herself apart by owning, weaponizing, and celebrating her unapologetic sexuality. The result was an unprecedented success which, to date, has sold more than six million copies worldwide.”
4. How Amy Astley is Fashioning Architectural Digest for a New Generation. Amy Astley made headlines in May 2016 when she was appointed editor of Architectural Digest. Nothing if not an interesting move, Astley was holding court as the Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue, another Condé Nast-owned publication, when she was tasked with running the publishing giant's 97-year old interior design-focused magazine.
5. Helmut Lang: The Coming of Age of The Cool. What Helmut Lang achieved in the nineties is so little written about, so far beyond the existing reach of the Internet—and was so elusive, even at the time—that it’s hard to capture its enormity. What he did went far beyond inventing a casual-formal, elegant-subversive uniform—things to wear every day that emitted confidence, centeredness, and sexiness. It was more than that.
6. Gianni Versace: 20 Years After his Death, A Lasting Legacy. Despite Mr. Versace absence from the fashion industry for two decades now, his legacy is arguably just as strong as ever. In fact, as Vogue noted recently, “Much of what is considered de rigueur about fashion in 2017, [Mr. Versace] put his stamp on in his 1990s glory days—the splashy, expensively made ad campaigns; the star-studded front rows; indeed, the entire fashion-celebrity nexus.”
7. While Other Luxury Brands Suffer, Brunello Cucinelli is Thriving. Founded in 1978, Brunello Cucinelli’s eponymous label has been the subject of significant interest in recent years in connection with its ability to continue to growth its brand and demand for its pricey garments (even the brand's sample sales are out of reach for most consumers). But maybe significant: Its founder’s self-proclaimed “employee-centered approach humanistic capitalism.”
8. The Rise of Sean John: A Landmark, A Label That Continues to Impact. Before the proliferation of musicians-slash-designers came to be, and before the mixing of street-inspired wares and high fashion became utterly seamless (and even expected), Combs conceived of and launched Sean John, his fully-fledged, self-built fashion venture. Founded in 1998, making its debut for Spring/Summer 1999 by way of a Las Vegas trade show, Sean John represented Combs’ “dream to build an aspirational brand for the young consumer.”
9. Philipp Plein: The Donald Trump of the Fashion Industry? The Financial Times published the perfect article in 2015. Entitled, “Who the Hell is Philipp Plein?,” the London-based publication's Nick Remsen attempted to make sense of the German designer’s flashy garments and larger-than-life runway spectacles, which have turned Plein's brand into the “luxury power player” that - quite frankly - no one necessarily asked for.
10. Narciso Rodriguez: Designer to the First Lady, Hollywood Stars, American Royalty. A Cuban-American designer, who graduated from Parson’s, a design school in New York in the 1980's, Rodriguez showed his first women’s ready-to-wear collection under the Narciso Rodriguez label in Milan in October 1997 for the Spring/Summer 1998 season. He has gone on to garner die-hard fans in Hollywood, including Sarah Jessica Parker (who wore some of his designs on Sex and the City), Jessica Alba, Julianna Margulies, Claire Danes, and Kate Winslet, among others. And awards. Many awards.