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The best (and worst) in fashion and design from 2009 Add to ...

FASHION PICKS

Michelle Obama's inauguration outfit (day)

For her first style statement as first lady, Obama appeared in an inspired and optimistic citron yellow. The brocade dress and coat, designed by Isabel Toledo, may have bordered on furniture upholstery, but it confirmed that the President's message of change applied equally to his wife's wardrobe. Bonus points for the vintage brooch from Canada's Carole Tanenbaum.



Balmain

Christophe Decarnin has been touted ever since he joined Balmain as creative director in 2005. In '09, however, both of the house's collections improved on his already edgy aesthetic while attracting a wider following among celebs. Further proof of his penetration: Fast-fashion knockoffs of his stiff-shouldered rocker jackets, sequined mini dresses, slashed skin-tight jeans and multi-buckle boots.



Fashion-themed docs

While films set in the fashion world were mostly dogs last year (see Pans), 2009 witnessed the release of superb behind-the-seams documentaries. What resonated most about Valentino: The Last Emperor and The September Issue was how their creators disproved the alleged superficiality of the glad rag industry by focusing on people and relationships of substance.



Stella McCartney for Gap Kids

Thanks to this super cute, relatively affordable collaboration, toddlers and tykes had no excuse for looking goofy on the playground. Unsurprisingly, the highest demand came from adults petite enough to fit into the snow leopard sweaters, cashmere leggings and ombré tutus. Even Carla Bruni-Sarkozy donned the très jolie military jacket for a TV appearance.



Lady Gaga's fearless fashion

When Barbara Amiel said in 2002 that her "extravagance knows no bounds," neither she nor we had heard of Lady Gaga, who was still Stephanie Germanotta. Lady Black, however, could take a lesson in excess from the pop sensation, whose futuristic, fetishistic, couture-driven ensembles have become the ne plus ultra in kooky eye candy. And she keeps outdressing herself, no mean feat.



Mark Fast

The story - Canadian designer finds success abroad - isn't new, but what Winnipeg-born, London-based Fast has up his sleeve is a unique and utterly feminine approach to knitwear that is suited to all figures. The 28-year-old caused a mini sensation when his SS10 show featured three plus-sized models in his cobwebby Lycra yarn dresses, turning body-con into body-pro.



The Room

In October, the Bay's crown jewel, the St. Regis Room in Toronto, reopened in larger, swankier digs, giving notice that it was ready to reclaim its position as Canada's foremost fashion stop. The 20,000-square-foot space, designed to the nines by Yabu Pushelberg, is president and CEO Bonnie Brooks' first major step toward rebranding Canada's oldest department store. Her not-so-secret weapon: creative director Nicholas Mellamphy, who homes in on emerging labels such as Prabal Gurung.



Model Lara Stone

The latest issue of Vogue describes her as "Sandra Bernhard crossed with Grace Kelly," she walked just about every designer show last year, W crowned her "Fashion's It Girl" in August and you can now find her starkers on the cover of Love magazine. Best of all, 26-year-old Dutch-born Stone is a curvy size four, which, in a sea of über waifs, marks a high-heeled step in the right direction.



Fashion blogger Tommy Ton

For Canadian fashion junkies, Oakville native Tommy Ton is a bigger celebrity than Shania Twain. Our answer to The Sartorialist, his acutely edited Jak & Jil blog has caught the attention of and garnered him gigs with Flare magazine, Style.com, Linda Latner's Vintage Couture site and Asian retailer Lane Crawford. Cue the book deal, film and museum exhibition.



Bow ties



Spotted on everyone from CP24's Stephen LeDrew to Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass, the bow tie had a breakthrough year, becoming the easiest and most distinctive wardrobe update for men. Reflecting its popularity, the biggest question wasn't how to tie one - many are pre-knotted - but what kind to choose: Options ranged from luxe (Lanvin) to edgy (Christopher Sherman) to hipster prep (American Apparel).



FASHION PANS

Michelle Obama's inauguration outfit (night)

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