2009: The Year in Style

The Year in Marc
It was a relatively quiet 2009 for Marc Jacobs. He threw that mega Louis Vuitton-Stephen Sprouse party in New York in January, caused a mini-scandal by making his Fall 2009 show a celebrity-free zone, nabbed Madonna for the Vuitton ads and Gaga for his Spring 2010 after-party—like we said, relatively quiet. Contributing to the air of tranquility was all that domestic bliss. A rumored wedding to Brazilian beau Lorenzo Martone has yet to happen, but the couple has reportedly purchased a $10.4 million West Village love nest—and hey, the year's still young.

The Fast Crowd
High-low collabs aren't a new phenomenon, of course, but the concept kicked into overdrive in a cost-conscious year. Target nabbed Anna Sui, Alexander McQueen, and Rodarte (plus Zac Posen for 2010). Not to be outdone, H&M hyped its partnerships with Sonia Rykiel and Jimmy Choo, the latter of which drew frenzies of stiletto-crazed fashionistas to the Swedish retailer's global flagships. And don't forget Jil Sander's +J collection for Uniqlo—proof that minimalists love a bargain, too. The biggest news for us New Yorkers, though, was the arrival of Topshop's first stateside store, complete with an opening-day appearance by Kate Moss and not one but two star-studded parties. The scale of Sir Philip Green's entertaining was further proof that in today's fashion climate, the luxury brands no longer have the most muscle.
e Oughta Be in Pictures
The fashion world finds itself endlessly fascinating. In 2009, Hollywood bet that the rest of the population would, too. The Last Emperor chronicled Valentino Garavani in the year leading up to his 2007 Rome retrospective, paying close attention to his frequent squabbles with partner Giancarlo Giammetti. In The September Issue, moviegoers got a peek at the inner workings of Vogue magazine. Coco Before Chanel's Audrey Tautou portrayed the orphan who confronted obstacles both personal and political to become the most important person in twentieth-century fashion. Generating Oscar buzz, meanwhile, is former Gucci designer Tom Ford's directorial debut, A Single Man. And next year may yet bring us Ridley Scott's movie about the Gucci dynasty, possibly starring Angelina Jolie. But here's the fashion movie we'd really like to see made: The Beautiful Fall, set in 1970's Paris, with pretty boy Rupert Friend in the YSL role and as his nemesis, Karl Lagerfeld…the studly Gerard Butler.

The Daughters of Rock
A lot of kids want to be rock stars when they grow up; rock stars' kids want to be in fashion. Pillow-lipped Georgia May Jagger—of the Jerry and Mick clan—is one of the most buzzed-about mannequins of the season, after landing campaigns for Versace, Rimmel, and Hudson Jeans, not to mention nabbing Model of the Year honors at the British Fashion Awards. Not bad for a girl who barely tops 5' 7". Zoë Kravitz, the pretty daughter of Lenny and Lisa Bonet, fronts the indie band Elevator Fight and is the new face of Vera Wang's Princess perfume. Actress-slash-artist Mickey Sumner, a.k.a. eldest child of Sting and Trudie Styler, turned up on the arm of Chris Benz at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards in November, while li'l sis Coco (who starred in a Burberry campaign last year) landed the cover of Love magazine. In more of a traditional move, Coco is also readying a ska-pop debut album for release. For all the haters out there, she offers lyrics like this: "Forget my dad / You need to hear my band / My name is a stain / My family name."

The Bankruptcy Files
The Great Recession has been as unkind to the fashion world as it has been to everyone else who doesn't work for Goldman Sachs. Gianfranco Ferré and Yohji Yamamoto filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, though both houses continue to operate. When her Italian production company closed in October, Luella Bartley's distributor withdrew its backing, effectively shuttering the British designer's business overnight. "Save Luella" pages popped up just as quickly on Facebook and Twitter. And poor Christian Lacroix. After two potential buyers missed a November deadline to provide financial guarantees, a Paris court approved a plan to shut down the designer's haute couture and ready-to-wear activities, effectively turning his beloved label into a licensing operation. Here's hoping for happier news in 2010.

Chanel Surfing
Let other designers scale back and tout the virtues of going low-key. Karl Lagerfeld knows well the value of a fashion spectacle. In May, KL and company jetted to Venice for Chanel's Resort 2010 show, sending models down a boardwalk runway lining the Lido while attendees reclined in cabanas. But that was nothing compared to the extravaganza he staged in Shanghai earlier this month for the house's pre-fall collection. With the city's Jetsons-meets-Blade Runner skyline as a backdrop, it was almost hard to pay attention to the looks gliding by—too bad, there were some beauties—but the performance was less about selling clothes than it was about selling an image. Style.com's Sarah Mower called it "a giant social power play for the eminence of brand Chanel in China." Brazil? India? Where to next, Karl?

Yes, She's Really Going Out in That
If the nation faces a more divisive issue than health care reform, it's the subject of Lady Gaga's wardrobe. One-upping herself every time she gets in front of the cameras, the pop sensation delights her fans—and thumbs her nose at her haters—with her outlandish attire. In September she performed at Marc Jacobs' after-party naked save for a red lace body stocking. Her "Bad Romance" video debuted last month, featuring the singer cavorting in an asylum wearing Spring '10 Alexander McQueen. And for her meeting with the Queen of England? Why, a red PVC gown and matching eye pasties, of course. Sure, she toned things down with her black and white Chanel suit for Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People of 2009 show, but despite her protestations to the contrary, we'd say that Gaga is the year's most successful attention-seeker.

Remembering Penn
Irving Penn, who died this October at the age of 92, was the antithesis of today's entourage-trailing superstar photographers. Famous for his determined perfectionism, he produced timeless images that elevated his subjects—from bars of Clinique soap to his gorgeous wife, Lisa Fonssagrives—to works of art. A private man who kept his studio clean and quiet—no smoking or even talking, except between photographer and subject—Penn seemed almost to exist in a bygone era, one in which models arrived on time and celebrities could be trusted not to abscond with the borrowed jewels. But there was nothing nostalgic about his images, which, until the end, had the shock of the new.
The Revolution Will Be Tweeted
It's ironic that it took until 2009 for an industry as trend-obsessed as fashion to get on board with the digital revolution—but get on board it did. Everyone from modeling agencies to Fake Karl has a Twitter account (we should know—we have the best of them on our nifty Fashion Feed), and bloggers like Bryanboy, Tavi, and Style.com favorite Tommy Ton landed front-row seats. But the biggest buzz surrounded live broadcasts from the shows (Alexander McQueen's came complete with the debut of a Lady Gaga single, Nick Knight's video of a writhing Raquel Zimmermann, and the crashing of SHOWstudio's servers). Now, if publicists can only figure out a way to determine whether you should be allowed to sit three feet, 10 feet, or 20 feet away from your computer screen, depending on your place in the style hierarchy, we'll be all set.
No Escaping Reality
People might not be buying clothes these days, but judging by Project Runway and its spawn, they love to watch shows about clothes that will never be sold in stores. If fashion reality television once came on like a flash in the pan (remember Stylista, anyone?), it now seems here to stay. Just ask Rachel Zoe. It could have been career suicide, but before you knew it, Zoe and her feisty minions were back for a second season of weirdly gripping, semi-scripted drama on The Rachel Zoe Project, and her designer pals—Giambattista Valli, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld—were along for the ride. And in 2010, the reality field gets even more crowded, as Team Zoe will be facing competition from the likes of Kelly Cutrone (Kell on Earth), the crew on Launch My Line (hosted by Dsquared²'s Dan and Dean Caten), and of course, the Tinz.

The First Lady of Masstige
Fashion and music have a history of getting into bed together (just ask Kate and Pete), but the relationship has never been cozier or more publicity-friendly than in a year that gave us Beyoncé in Gareth Pugh, RiRi in the front row, and Gaga in not very much. But while Lady G may be getting the credit (or blame) for the pants-less craze, the less fickle among us will remember that Beth Ditto was 2009's true nudity trailblazer. First, the Gossip singer majestically let it all hang out on the cover of Love, and then, in case anyone hadn't gotten a good look, she took a stage dive in nothing but a sequined bra, panties, and fishnets at Karl Lagerfeld's Fendi party. Add that to her plus-size clothing line for Evans, and you've got 2009's for-the-people, by-the-people style icon.

from style.com
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