From Miley Cyrus’s twerkwear and Zaha Hadid’s superyacht to rapper-designer bromances and the largest shoe department in Canada, 2013 was studded with poignant departures, thrilling debuts, sheer excess and sublime restraint when it came to fashion and design. Globe Style sifts through the retail deals and Google Glass, faux-fur onesies and foam fingers to recap the 12 months that were (even Rob Ford gets a mention!)
Kate vs. Kim, maternity wear division
The Duchess of Cambridge went head to head (or posy print to posy print) with wannabe princess Kim Kardashian in the battle for floral-pregnancy-frock supremacy this year. The former Kate Middleton’s pick, a silk Erdem number worn to a school visit in April, was busier than her usual understated ensembles, but it had nothing on the bloomin’ Givenchy rose-garden-photo-print piece that Kardashian squeezed into for the Met Ball in May. The ultimate winner: the Duchess. Hers didn’t come with matching gloves or, as many a fashion blogger noted, resemble a chintz chesterfield.
While the invasion of this country’s malls and main streets by foreign retailers from Target to Mulberry redefined the buying landscape, it was Canadian department stores that made the biggest plays for shopper attention in 2013. Hudson’s Bay both sealed its deal to buy swanky Saks Fifth Avenue (which it intends to bring north in the not-to-distant future) and opened the largest women’s shoe department in Canada at its Toronto flagship (think 95,000-plus pairs). For its part, Holt Renfrew debuted its off-price HR2 concept and announced a revamp of Ogilvy in Montreal.
Model of the year
Edmonton native Grace Mahary, who made her mark on the modeling biz during the spring 2013 season, went on to walk too many A-list catwalks to count this year. Representative of her star power was her turn at Prabal Gurung during the last round of shows, when she worked a black dress covered in crystal brooches with signature poise and sophistication.
Comings and goings
In an age and industry marked by look-at-me showiness, the maturity and restraint that 30-year-old Alexander Wang displayed in his first two collections for Balenciaga were refreshing. Although his affinity for street style is well established, Wang signalled that he isn’t going to reinvent the august brand overnight, but rather evolve it gradually – at his own pace and in his own way.
Before Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton was simply a purveyor of luxury leather goods. Over his 15-year tenure, however, the maison became a ready-to-wear powerhouse, showcasing both the designer’s vast creativity and its own savoir-faire. In October, Jacobs delivered his swan song for LV with an all-black, showgirls-themed runway extravaganza, but his imprint on the brand will remain indelible.
As if Burberry’s chief creative director didn’t already have enough responsibility, Christopher Bailey was also named the iconic British label’s CEO this fall; he will succeed Angela Ahrendts, who departs for Apple in the spring. This type of creative/financial double duty, largely unheard of in fashion, has no blueprint to go with it. If Bailey’s appointment was widely discussed, his first year on both jobs should keep tongues wagging well into 2014 and beyond.
Best in shows
The crowd lucky enough to have witnessed Rick Owens’s step-dance runway spectacle in September could be forgiven for paying more attention to the non-models’ impressive footwork (and facial gestures) than the draped and contoured activewear.
For Chanel’s fall/winter 2013 collection, Karl Lagerfeld envisioned a gargantuan rotating globe pinpricked with illuminated flags marking every one of the company’s 300-plus boutiques, confirming (for those who didn’t already suspect it) that his goal is nothing short of world domination.
It’s rare for a designer to share the spotlight during a show, but Dries van Noten did just that when he shone one – literally – on Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood, who played bass guitar during his spring/summer 2014 presentation. Reinforcing the friendly, informal vibe, the models remained in place after their final walk, allowing guests to get close to and snap pictures of the lushly detailed collection.
Pattern of the year
Over the decades, fashion designers have riffed on a wide range of references, both high and low. This year’s standout reinterpretation, which falls in the Where-have-I seen-that-before? department: Pheobe Philo’s elevation of dime-store laundry-bag weaves into glamorous Céline must-haves. Talk about effective brainwashing.
Object of desire
Unveiled at Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April, industrial designer Konstantin Grcic’s Medici chair for the Italian furniture maker Mattiazzi is an impressive feat of geometry, as mesmerizingly angular as it is inviting. Its Renaissance namesakes would have approved.