Best of 2016: Most Memorable Moments in Fashion

Fluorescent leggings, designer protests, sartorial musical chairs… It’s been one wild ride in the fashion industry this year.

It’s the fashion world’s dirty little secret: The more things change the more they stay the same. Not 2016—a year of wholesale upheaval if ever there were one. From the countless designer shake-ups at the world’s leading labels to the macro changes taking place in the fashion calendar, it was 12 months of constantly shifting sands.

A couple of new names, Alessandro Michele at Gucci and Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Balenciaga, emerged as bona fide stars in a year in which we also lost legendary designers Sonia Rykiel and Andre Courrèges, photographer David Hamilton, and the model and Avedon muse China Machado.

Editorials everywhere bemoaned the death of the department store as if their fate had not been writ-large decades ago. Meanwhile, a greynaissance of sorts emerged on the runways, with Gucci’s granny-inflected glamour being the dominant motif and superannuated supermodel Lauren Hutton shining on the Bottega Veneta catwalk.

Not to be outdone, aging enfant terrible Madonna hit a bum note on the red carpet when she wore a derriere-revealing see-though Givenchy number to the Met Gala in May. Ah, some things never change.

Changing Fashion Show Formats

For as long as anyone can remember the fashion system, including its insistence on showing to the press and buyers twice a year, six months ahead of the clothes being available in stores, seemed broken. This year, some designers decided to shake things up, with Tom Ford, Burberry, and Thakoon among the big names to try the “see now, buy now” approach where clothes were available immediately off the runway. It remains to be seen whether circumventing their own production systems and the public’s expectations will pay off, but early indications are that the trend is not going away any time soon.

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Model of the Year: Naomi Campbell

Gigi who? ¿Que Bella? For all the talk of a new generation of It Girls (none more touted than the puzzlingly ubiquitous Hadid sisters) for our money the year in modeling belonged to Naomi Campbell. Now strutting the far side of 40, La Campbell looked better and more imperious than ever in her much-noticed turns on the covers of W and Another magazines, as well as on the Versace spring runway. As befitting the diva’s diva, Campbell also stole the show in Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision, the monograph (Taschen) and exhibition of the same name celebrating the great German photographer and booster of the world’s regnant supermodel. 

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Fashion Photographer of the Year: Glen Luchford

One of the fashion world’s biggest overachievers is also one of its most underpublicized. Though he has continued to be one of the most in-demand editorial and advertising photographers over two decades, Glen Luchford has been content to blend into the background and let his more celebrated peers chew up the scenery. This season, he couldn’t escape the spotlight as the lensman behind the omnipresent Gucci campaigns on numerous platforms. Working alongside the label’s creative director Alessandro Michele, Luchford repositioned the storied brand’s marketing, moving it away from overt sexuality to a more complex romanticism that’s been aped ad nauseam.

Men, Then

Often relegated to honorary redheaded-stepchild of the fashion system, men muscled their way into the center of much urgent attention. Underscoring the growth of menswear in the marketplace, and the importance that luxury brands are placing on expanding their men’s offerings, New York got its own dedicated men’s Fashion Week. Meanwhile, masculinity was also on the agenda, with experiments in gender-bending being the order of the day—most successfully at Gucci and Bottega Veneta, which were among the labels to comment on gender fluidity by showing their men’s collections alongside the women’s. When even the New York Times is writing about “the architecture of gender,” you know something is in the air.