2016 has been a year of upheaval around the world – and fashion has been no exception. While in many ways this has been a year to which we’ll be glad to say good riddance, there were also moments that redeemed 2016 somewhat. Here’s our guide to everything important that happened in fashion this year:
1. Fashion Embraces Technology
Tech wearables and catwalks turned data centres
• Biosensing with Hussein Chalayan
Turkish-born, British raised designer Hussein Chalayan brought biosensing to the runway as he pushed boundaries during the SS17 Paris Fashion Week.
• Chanel Data Centre
Karl Lagerfeld once again pushed back the boundaries of fashion when he turned the interiors of the Grand Palais in Paris into a mind blowing data centre for Chanel.
• Chatbots and E-commerce
Tommy Hilfiger was the first to launch a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, connecting users with its New York fashion show, while Burberry also stepped up its e-commerce game, promoting its See Now, Buy Now initiative after its London Fashion show by allowing users to shop directly via a chatbot.
• Buy +
Alibaba launched Buy+, a virtual reality shopping experience that gives customers a 360-degree panoramic view of apparel and other products.
2. Bidding Farewell to Cultural Icons
Two of music’s foremost fashion influencers take their final bow
In April the world lost a musical genius who transcended gender, sexuality and race. Prince’s over the top, flamboyant flair was alluring and mesmerising. Who could forget his bottom revealing outfit or his purple suits? May we forever bask in his purple rain.
• David Bowie
David Bowie was the king of self-reinvention and a musical and fashion chameleon. He revolutionised youth culture and fashion not once but several times, thanks to out of this world alter egos like Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke.
3. Out With the Old, In With the New
2016 was a year of creative changes at the major fashion houses, with big-name design directors making way for fresh blood
• Saint Laurent
Anthony Vaccarello at the helm of the prestigious fashion house debuted his very sexy and desirable wearables strongly inspired by previous creator Hedi Slimane’s dark, rocky aesthetic during fashion week in Paris.
Alexander Wang departed Balenciaga to focus on his own label, and Demna Gvasalia delivered a style marked by challenging proportions and bargain bin luxury in the AW16 collection.
When it comes to exceptional gabardine trousers or finely crafted, army inspired jackets, Bouchra Jarrar takes the crown. Her debut collection for Lanvin was stunning and on point, but it was impossible not to miss Alber Elbaz.
As Maria Grazia Chiuri departed Valentino, her creative partner Pierpaolo Piccioli led the brand with beautiful designs infused with pinks and reds for his SS17 debut solo collection.
• Calvin Klein
Fashion lovers around the world are eagerly anticipating Raf Simons’ debut collection for Calvin Klein, which will debut during Paris Fashion Week in February 2017. Check out the top 5 most iconic Calvin Klein looks here.
• Ermenegildo Zegna
After three years at the head of the house, Stefano Pilati is stepping down as creative director of Zegna and Alessandro Sartori rejoining, with his second debut scheduled for AW17.
4. Curvacious Models Redefine Beauty
The first plus size models land covers with Vogue, Maxim and Sports Illustrated
• Ashley Graham
What a year it has been for Ashley Graham, who has graced the cover of British Vogue, Elle Canada and Sports Illustrated, reminding the world that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
• Vivian Geeyang Kim
South Korean plus size model Vivian Geeyang Kim faced cyber bullying that escalated to the frightening death threats. Kim, however, was undeterred and continues to model and be a role model for plus size Korean women. She has even set up her own quarterly magazine which offers fashion and styling tips as well as advice against bullying. See more top female Asian models challenging the status quo here.
5. Fashion Falls Out
When the fashionable fur flew
• The Banning of Burkinis
The French government faced a huge backlash after it banned burkinis in an utterly ridiculous, discriminatory act targeting Muslim women.
• Yeezy Season 4
Kanye really lost it this year. He made models stand under the beating sun until they collapsed from heat stroke, dehydration and exhaustion. On top of that, the collection was a complete disaster and the heels from some models gave out on the catwalk.
• VS’s BS Offends Chinese Netizens
Although international media applauded the lingerie brand for embracing diversity and including a record of four Chinese models (out of 51…), there was a large number of Chinese netizens outraged at VS’s misappropriation of Chinese culture. They found the Chinese inspired costumes to be tacky, tasteless and poor representation of Chinese culture. Victoria Secret launched their full line of lingerie earlier this year in Shanghai. Read Arthur Tam’s column on how Chinese fashion design is reclaiming its heritage here.
6. Fashion & Business
Customers can now get their most desired items even quicker than before
• Kenzo and H&M Collaborate
The electric Parisian brand and the mass retailer offered an affordable maximalist collection of animal prints on animal prints, an aesthetic that paid homage to the early days of Kenzo Takada. Find out more fashion collaborations of 2016.
• See Now, Buy Now at Fashion Week
Brands including Burberry and Tom Ford have started to make their collections available to customers immediately after catwalk shows.
• IWC Gets WeChatty
Reflecting the increasing number of Chinese people using WeChat to buy products, luxury watch brand IWC opened its first WeChat store.
• Ivy Park Joins Forces with Topshop
Beyonce introduced her new athleisure collection, Ivy Park, in collaboration with the British retailer. She’s selling swagger, but it’s more than just heavily logoed sweats and jumpers.
7. Trends of the Year
Looking like you just rolled out of bed and looked stylish
• Pyjama Party
Comfort is in this year. Plenty of catwalks from Gucci to Fendi have embraced the homebody look.
• Micro Blading Takes Over the Internet
A new semi-permanent eyebrow technique from Asia that promises fuller, natural looking brows is this year’s obsession among beauty insiders.
• Kimono Mania
The kimono has inspired style trends since its current straight line shape was established more than a thousand years ago, and this year there have been plenty of modern takes on the traditional Japanese silhouette.
8. China Rising
Designers from the Middle Kingdom make an impression on the fashion world
• Cynthia and Xiao
Design duo Cynthia Mak and Xiao Xiao, from Hong Kong and Beijing respectively, ruled Milan Fashion Week with masterpieces inspired by outer space, as models strutted down the runway in pop pattern and metallic designs.
Chinese designer Liu Xiaolu is a force to be reckoned with. Her emotional Beauty of Nature collection during Milan Fashion Week favoured soft patterns and fluid silhouettes.
• Masha Ma
The established designer was given the tough task of designing the Chinese team uniforms for the Rio Olympic Games, and came up with the most stylish uniforms Chinese athletes have ever worn.
• Heng Shu
Eric Qu is making a name for himself with handmade shoes made using traditional Chinese techniques. He uses only the best leather and meticulously hand carves the heels of the shoes himself. Our favourite pairs are the ones he embeds with lace.
9. Chinese Fashion Defies Luxury Slump
Chinese fashion weeks soar and Dolce & Gabbana step out of their comfort zone
• Beijing and Shanghai Fashion Weeks Dazzle
Though the luxury market in China has been suffering, Chinese fashion weeks haven’t missed a beat, presenting talented young Chinese designers like Xiao Xue, Angel Chen and Xander Zhou who are making it big on the global stage.
• Dolce & Gabbana Go on Tour
Dolce & Gabbana showcased their first collection outside Milan at The Peninsula hotel in Hong Kong. The decadent, gilded collection was nothing short of spectacular.
10. Fashion Campaigns Go into Overdrive
A music video, a homage to a fashion legend and a convulsive dance up the ante
• Wolves feat. Kanye West by Balmain
Olivier Rousteing outdoes himself in this incredible campaign, collaborating with Kanye West to showcase his new collection. See the full music video here.
• The Tale of Thomas Burberry by Burberry
You might have mistaken this video for a trailer for a Thomas Burberry biopic, but it was just a clever campaign with incredibly high production values.
• Come Together by H&M
Snowy weather causes a train to be delayed, but the conductor, played by Adrien Brody, lightens the mood on the train as we see passengers decked out in H&M. Director Wes Anderson captures the holiday spirit in a quirky, heartwarming way.
• Da Da Ding by Nike
This brilliant three minute hip hop inspired Nike campaign video challenges cultural ideals of Indian women by showing a group of active, athletic women taking over a city. Find out more about the athleisure fashion trend.
11. Fashion in Film
Animals of the night and epic tales of the untimely deaths of legendary designers
• Tom Ford Nocturnal Animals
It’s been seven years since his directorial debut with A single Man, but Ford got back in the driver’s seat with a seductive story that prompted a bit of soul searching.
• Wong Kar-wai Takes on Fashion
Known for his rich, cinematic, stylish movies such as ‘In the Mood for Love’ and ‘2046’, Wong Kar-wai is a natural for a fashion related film, and his next feature will tell the story of the Gucci family, specifically the controversial death of Maurizio Gucci.
• Battle of Versailles Documentary
This documentary tells the epic tale of the 1973 fashion showdown between American and French designers. The Americans come out victorious, partly because of the models, many of them African American.
• Versace Biopic
Antonio Banderas is set to play the late Gianni Versace, whose incident packed life is sure to make this an intriguing film.