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.
Although Pantone decreed Emerald the colour of the year, the one that really deserved the title was Yves Klein Blue. Seen on everything from fashion (Michael Kors, Roland Mouret) to eyewear (Barcelona-based Etnia's unisex specs, an actual collaboration with the Yves Klein Archives) to furniture (Terence Conran's elegant Elder chair for J.C. Penney), the striking and sumptuous shade felt just as timeless (and timely) as when the French artist introduced it in 1957.
Fur is a perennial fashion-world tool, but this year saw it put to truly monstrous use. During New York Fashion Week, both Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang showed cartoonishly oversized fur mittens at their fall shows. But it was the designer Jeremy Scott, Moschino's recently appointed creative director, who pushed this micro-trend the furthest for his eponymous line, sending the model Lindsey Wixson down the runway in a Yeti-inspired faux-fur onesie complete with hood and tail.
Musical man muses
Cher has Bob Mackie to create her touring duds. Madonna tapped Gaultier to memorable effect. This year, though, it was male singing stars who formed the most fruitful relationships with designers. For his outré wardrobe on the Yeezus Tour, Kanye West partnered with Maison Martin Margiela, which provided the rapper-dilettante with his printed trousers, embroidered jackets and jewel-encrusted masks. Toronto-born Drake, meanwhile, hooked up with Italo Zucchelli, the men's creative director at Calvin Klein, who reinterpreted several of the label's spring 2014 street-wear-inspired looks for his Would You Like a Tour show. Most impressive, however, were the 600 exquisitely tailored pieces Tom Ford supplied for Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience, which saw JT, his dancers and his backing band in sync stylistically.
Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong. The actress who turned her Oscar-night pratfall-in-a-ballgown into a genuinely winning moment also had the most-buzzed-about haircut of the year: a choppy pixie do that's very short at the back and long and sideswept in the front. Girl on fire indeed.
Bad as they wanna be
Everyone dwelled on the protruding tongue. But what about the satyrish top knots? The creepily retro bra and panties? The obscenely employed foam finger? Her nubile body (and rebellious youthfulness) notwithstanding, Miley Cyrus was 2013's hottest mess. Make that not hot at all.
On top of all the outrages inflicted on them by their mayor this year, Torontonians also had to suffer the indignity of his NFL-themed necktie. At least Italy's Rob Ford, the equally shameless Silvio Berlusconi, had some style.
No, Helena Bonham Carter wasn't re-auditioning for the role of Miss Havisham or anticipating another Harry Potter instalment when she donned this get-up. It was, in fact, what she wore to the Academy Awards in February. Someone needs to give the increasingly witchy-looking actress a truth-telling mirror.
The perils of Paulina
More than a few readers of Flare magazine were incensed last winter when the Rogers-owned fashion title put Wayne Gretzky's daughter Paulina on its February cover, the main complaint being that the 24-year-old best known for her naughty, dad-angering Instagram pics was unworthy of the honour. Flare editor Miranda Purvis, who dubbed the controversy "Paulinagate," tried to defend the choice. (She will be leaving the mag next month after only 20 months at its helm.) As for Paulina, she has moved on – to the December cover of Maxim.
Revenge of the nerds?
Its impressive (if still imperfect) technology aside, Google Glass may be this year's most questionable It accessory. The lensless specs – wearable computers much touted by the Internet giant – are oddly conspicuous considering their minimal design. All geek, no chic, to put it another way.
Poetry in motion (sometimes)
This year was rife with examples of handsome transportation designs; the problem was whether some of them would get off the ground (and stay there). Superstar architect Zaha Hadid's superyacht prototype for the German shipbuilders Blohm+Voss, for instance, was as sleek and sinuous as her buildings. Who besides a Bond villain might commission one is another matter, however. By contrast, Boeing's new 787 Dreamliners won actual user accolades for their larger-than-usual cabin windows and soothing LED lighting – when they weren't being grounded by air authorities because of overheated batteries. And just as Tesla's good-looking Model S sedan was heralding the dawn of mass-market electric cars, the New York Times gave it a thumbs down in February after an allegedly glitch-filled test drive, a review that was hotly contested by Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO. Perhaps Musk, a dashing South African-born magnate right out of a Bond thriller, will soon be plotting his next moves on his own Zaha Hadid superyacht?