by Cathy Horyn (edited by TFL)
No one really talks about fabulous, must-have clothes anymore. Have you noticed? Instead, in 2013, the conversation focused on business deals (which luxury brand would go public next, the further designs of Amazon) and how celebrities faced their baby fat. Still, the year had its ironic moments and left-field surprises, plus a few artists who refused to be complacent.
1. John Galliano helped Oscar de la Renta with his fall collection and then shared his addiction-recovery story with Vanity Fair and Charlie Rose. It was a classic, P.R.-managed bid to reclaim a reputation. While some were skeptical of this media performance, Mr. de la Renta heaped praise on their brief collaboration, saying that Mr. Galliano’s designs were commercial winners. Mr. de la Renta, 81, is looking for a successor. But maybe Mr. Galliano wants to buy back his eponymous label from LVMH, if he can.
2. At Dior, Raf Simons elevated the fashion conversation in a way that few could have imagined in 2012, when he was hired by the Paris house. He linked his own modern sensibility to that of Christian Dior’s, surprising the audience at his fall ready-to-wear show with calm and beautiful clothes that evoked Dior’s 1950s silhouette yet broke free of it. A flaring black skirt seemed to crash through the opening of an elegant red coat. There were references to Surrealism and Warhol, in color and embroideries. Mr. Simons said he was trying to recreate the reality of having strong sensitivities — clashes are inevitable. This was much more than a postmodern riff.
3. Baz Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby”attempted to be a modernized version of the liberal 1920s, but, oddly, despite the Prada dresses and music by Jay Z, the director completely missed the decade’s real sense of freedom, especially among women. Adolescent flappers wore practically nothing: just a shift, step-ins and shoes with rolled stockings. That near-naked look would have certainly given Mr. Luhrmann’s movie a modern edge. Night life was also far more decadent than the noisy scenes he created.
4. Nicolas Ghesquière took over Louis Vuitton as Marc Jacobs exited to devote himself to his label (and a possible IPO). Mr. Jacobs helped define fashion at Vuitton. And clothing and shoes do not represent insignificant sales. A year away from the limelight and Balenciaga, where he made his name, Mr. Ghesquière now has a chance do something powerful.
5. At the Grammys in February, Adele shed black for a sumptuous red floral number by Valentino.
6. After Rick Owens’s men’s show in late June, when he featured a crazy bunch of guys from Estonia in werewolf masks, nobody could complain that runway shows lacked energy. The men, members of a band called Winny Puhh, performed while suspended upside down. Then, for his women’s show in September, Mr. Owens invited a bunch of American step dancers.
7. In 2012, bloggers were a big story. This year, the influence seemed to shift to YouTube, as more and more fashion companies, as well as editors and photographers, used it for mini-movies and other programming.
8. Americans will continue to buy clothing made overseas, but this year U.S.-made gained ground as more foreign-owned apparel makers invested in textile and yarn-spinning factories in this country, mainly in the South. That’s because of rising energy and labor costs in Asia. Meanwhile, manufacturers like Robert Kidder of the New England Shirt Company, in Fall River, Mass, have shown that there’s a creative reason to have a factory close by.
9. In September, New York Fashion Week drew enough boos for the cheesy atmosphere of its Lincoln Center hub that the Council of Fashion Designers of America (that is, Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb, the organization’s chief executive) stepped in. The council will now be involved in the show calendar, just as its counterparts in Paris and Milan control their schedules. That’s a start, but with headliners saying they will leave the tents — Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera, among them — NYFW’s new owners, William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake Partners, still must fix an image problem.
10. Hundreds waited in line at the opening of the Azzedine Alaïa retrospective in September at the Palais Galliera. The evening was a celebration of both Mr. Alaïa’s remarkable fashion and his long association with Paris. Olivier Saillard curated the starkly dramatic exhibition. Mr. Saillard, who in the last year staged a Paris couture exhibition and a performance piece with Tilda Swinton, works from the premise that visitors will engage with historical fashion when there are no hyper effects.
11. Ann Demeulemeester, one of the original Antwerp Six, transmitted a handwritten note to the news media saying she was leaving her company. The decision, while initially surprising, didn’t seem as eventful as it might have a few years ago.
12. Just before Christmas, Dover Street Market, a creation of the Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe, opened a New York outpost at Lexington Avenue and 30th Street. There’s a lot to discover, even among the familiar labels, because the edit is sharp.