Top 10 Fashion Influencers of 2012: We count down the biggest and best moments from Raf to Rihanna and back again

top 10 fashion influencers 2012
top 10 fashion influencers 2012

By Randi Bergman and Meredith Gillies

2012 has been quite the year. We’ve waited for Carly Rae Jepsen’s phone to ring since what feels like forever, we developed major girl crushes on Girls director/writer, Lena Dunham, and we felt like we’d never be as cool as Azealia Banks. Jepsen, Banks and Dunham may have rocked our worlds this year, but in the world of fashion, important things that have gone down too. There have been soaring highs, crashing lows, and shocking changes for celebrities, designers and even journalists.

Designer shifts at Balenciaga and Dior that are just a sampling of what seems like an endless list of fashion shakeups that went down over the past 12 months including Stefano Pilati and Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent, YSL becoming simple Saint Laurent Paris and more. And speaking of shakeups, Kristen Stewart’s rise from a teen queen to a heartbreaking fragrance face has been epic to say the least. So let’s look back, reflect, and count down together the events that made 2012 so real.

See our list of 2012’s top influencers »

Gwyneth Paltrow Tom Ford Oscars 2012
Photography by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

10. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Tom Ford cape dress

Without even being nominated for an award, Gwyneth dominated the 2012 Oscars in a white Tom Ford cape-dress worthy of ancient Greece (or at least the mid-nineties). The simplicity of colour and the addition of the cape made the otherwise elegant look rise to the top of the red carpet pile for the event and the year.

Paltrow later brought her Gwyneth Paltrow Premiere Look (we’ll keep trying to make a thing) to Toronto, where she wore Tom Ford again for the TIFF premiere of Thanks for Sharing. The backless dress was seriously sexy for the ageless 40something actress.

Catch up with our Oscars 2012 red carpet coverage »

Hedi Slimane Cathy Horyn Tweet
Tweet via celebritystreetstyle.com

9. Hedi Slimane and Cathy Horyn

2012 has not been Cathy Horyn’s year for making pals. Her criticism of designers Hedi Slimane, the new creative director for Yves Saint Laurent (by that we mean Saint Laurent Paris) and Oscar de la Renta came with an avalanche of backlash.

First, Oscar de la Renta called her a “stale three-day old hamburger” which, admittedly, is a schoolyard jab, but Slimane took it next level. After not inviting the at times acerbic fashion critic to his debut show for Saint Laurent, and reciveing negative reviews in return, Slimane used a Twitpic to write an open letter to Horyn (see above). Words kept flying and keeping everyone entertained, and proved that old fashioned cat fights can still reign supreme.

Lana Del Rey H&M

8. Lana Del Rey

From her ultra-teased bouffant, to her stiletto nails, to her questionable bee-stung lips, to her influence, everything about Lana Del Rey seems larger than life. Encapsulating a DIY-loving generation with one maybe homemade video for her first single, “Video Games,” she went on to dominate 2012 with her sultry voice, her beauty and her “is she or isn’t she” realness. Whether or not she is, her aesthetic dominance was confirmed when she was made the face of H&M’s Fall 2012 campaign.

Catch up with all of our posts about Lana Del Rey in 2012 »

Joe Mimran Joe Fresh
Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani

7. Joe Mimran

After launching a few stores relatively quietly in New York State in late 2011, Joe Fresh closed in for US domination in 2012 with a Fifth Avenue flagship (opened by none other than Mayor Bloomberg), billboard ads and an announced shop-in-shop with J.C. Penney in the works for 2013. Joe Mimran and those velvet loafers of his just keep on making us proud.

See Joe Fresh’s Spring 2013 collection »

Nicolas Ghesquiere leaves Balenciaga
Photography by Peter Stigter

6. Nicolas Ghesquière

After being long since lauded as one of fashion’s definitive influencers, Nicolas Ghesquière proved that all good things really do come to an end when he announced that he was leaving Balenciaga after 15 years at its helm last month (we cried). Amidst rumours that Ghesquière and PPR, the firm that owns Balenciaga, had often disagreed on the direction of the brand, there is much speculation about what the designer might do next. Something major—that much we know.

Catch up with all of our posts about Nicolas Ghesquière in 2012 »

Rihanna 777 Tour Mexico City
Photography by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

5. Rihanna

Where hasn’t Rihanna been in 2012? From a literal sky-high tour to incessant instagram updates (some that come with much scrutiny due to a certain Chris Brown being in them), Rihanna has shown how to dress and how not to dress throughout the year. She’s coloured her hair and chopped it off, again and again but as for her fashion choices, she hit a high while on the 777 tour and we will never forget her custom Kenzo platforms.

Catch up with all of our posts about Rihanna in 2012 »

Kristen Stewart Twilight Breaking Dawn Part Two Los Angeles
Photography by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

4. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart’s year went from tumultuous to triumphant within the matter of months. The young Hollywood starlet best known for her role as Twilight’s Bella and now, her overly publicized cheating scandal, came back to wow us all with some major fashion risks and ended the year as the ruler of the red carpet. The scandal itself couldn’t have been more formal but moving forward Kristen Stewart kept on, keeping on. She became the face of Balenciaga’s Florabotanica and even subjected herself to a live question and answer session on the internet. She made her first red carpet appearance in a stunning floral Zuhair Murad knee-length dress and kept the A+ red carpet looks coming as she started promoting the Twilight Breaking Dawn: Part Two in November. With multiple sheer Zuhair Murad dresses and a catsuit to a custom Raf Simons designed Dior mini-dress, Kristen taught us all that she knows how to spins a scandal into a success better than the rest.

Catch up with all of our posts about Kristen Stewart in 2012 »

Raf Simons 2012

3. Raf Simons

After his reported sacking at Jil Sander after she herself wanted to re-assert control at her namesake label, Raf Simons went on to be selected to fill the most coveted design role of the last decade: Creative director at Christian Dior. Instantly rising to the occasion with a superb Spring 2013 Couture collection, Simons went on to poach one of Hollywood’s It girls, Jennifer Lawrence, as the new face of Miss Dior accessories and make some pretty serious promises to raise the house to the level of Chanel’s dominance. Galliano who?

Catch up with all of our posts about Raf Simons in 2012 »

Alexander Wang Creative Director Balenciaga
Photography by Peter Stigter

2. Alexander Wang

Since coming onto the scene in 2007, Alexander Wang has been considered the designer to watch. And each year since, he’s matched those expectations by defining the style of a generation with his namesake label, his diffusion line, his accessories and his cool-kid campaign faces. There was his New York flagship launch, and his impending Chinese store openings, but Alexander Wang’s real moment came late last month when he was announced the creative director of Balenciaga. While the match of his aesthetic with that of the storied house might be questioned, one thing’s for sure: dude understands the business of fashion.

Catch up with all of our posts about Alexander Wang in 2012 »

Kate Middleton Diamond Jubilee Pageant
Photography by DAVID CRUMP/AFP/Getty Images

1. Kate Middleton

If you’ve ever visited this site, you’ll know that Kate Middleton aka the Duchess of Cambridge is the absolute apple of our eye. And after a year navigating through Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, the London 2012 Olympics and her tour of Southeast Asia flawlessly dressed by It designers like Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders and Prabal Gurung, she topped it all off by announcing that she was pregnant with the next Royal heir. 2013 is sure to be full of even more Kate greatness, but hats off to the Duchess for once again, making our year in style.

See every outfit Kate’s worn since her engagement »