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A Look Back at the Most Memorable Fashion Moments of 2018

From the Golden Globes red carpet blackout to Dolce & Gabbana's racism debacle

2018 will no doubt go down in popular memory as a very, very bad year. Political headlines tended to dominate the news, and most of them were bleak: Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite allegations of sexual misconduct, mass shootings were disturbingly common, and the Toronto van attack hit close to home. And yet, fashion was not without its share of remarkable, newsworthy stories. Let’s take a look back at the most surprising and memorable fashion moments that made up 2018.

The Golden Globes Blackout Protest

The year began in earnest with a sombre display. Only four months after the New Yorker published a story detailing  Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of abuse that rocked the entertainment industry and spurred the resurgence of the #MeToo movement (first invented by Tarana Burke in 2007), actresses stood together at the Golden Globes wearing a funereal dirge of black on the normally cheery red carpet. Though the hue was one of mourning, the mood was not, with many finding great power and hope in the solidarity of the gesture. According to Time’s Up, the organization formed in the wake of the industry’s reckoning, 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 have been sexually harassed at work, and 71% of those women said they did not report it. By wearing black to support the cause, Hollywood’s most famous faces helped shine a light on an omnipresent but oft-buried issue.

Hedi Slimane Named Phoebe Philo’s Successor at Céline

The fashion industry quaked when Hedi Slimane was appointed the successor to Phoebe Philo’s quiet, slow fashion empire at Céline. Philo dealt in the business of creating elegant silhouettes that quietly telegraphed the power of the wearer, and Slimane, best known for his loud, derivative rock’n’roll designs was viewed as a comically bad fit for the role. Requiems for the brand began to sound, resale prices for Philo-era Céline went way up, and an Instagram account titled @oldceline (run by former FASHION intern Gabrielle Boucie) popped up to deify the era. Ultimately, the appointment of Slimane spelled the death knell for one of the most beloved brands in popular imagination, as they pivoted from producing subtle, resonant garments to pure commercial strategy. RIP Céline.

Virgil Abloh Takes Over at Louis Vuitton Men’s

In March, Louis Vuitton named the first African-American artistic director in the label’s history: Virgil Abloh. Best known for designing T-shirts with abbreviated quotation marks for his brand Off-White, Abloh has cultivated devoted following in the streetwear arena. The beginning of his appointment at the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear spells the beginning of a new era where hype-based streetwear is synonymous with old-world luxury. Abloh’s appointment was a canny move for both parties, imbuing Abloh with  supplemental street cred as a designer, plus sparked a newfound desire for Louis Vuitton goods amongst a demographic — primarily young Black men — that hadn’t previously viewed Louis Vuitton as aspirational.

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Sealed with a Kiss 💍💋 #HarryandMeghan

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Meghan Markle’s Wedding Dress

From her monumental royal wedding, to her pregnancy announcement to literally every single thing she wore, Meghan Markle was one of the biggest newsmakers of the year. On May 19th, countless North Americans rose at 4am and rubbed their eyes to witness the lavish royal wedding between the former Suits actress and Prince Harry. After months of speculation, Markle stepped out in a surprisingly simple white boatneck gown designed by Claire Waight Keller for Givenchy. Royal historian and curator Alexandra Kim told FASHION that Markle is “rather like a magician in the way she finds the delicate balance between remaining true to her own sense of style while honouring the elements expected of a royal wedding.” The simplicity of dress was juxtaposed with an ornamental veil depicting the distinctive flora of all 53 Commonwealth countries. For her more casual, private wedding reception, Markle changed into a Studio 54-worthy white halter neck dress by Stella McCartney.

Designer Kate Spade Dies

Kate Spade, purveyor of sunnily optimistic handbags, died on June 5th, 2018 of suicide. Her death came as a shock, as many found themselves searching for answers to s make sense of the gulf that seemingly existed between her bubbly public persona and private despair. Many opted to share their stories about the impact Spade and her namesake products had on their own lives. For FASHION, Jenn Shinouda-Levine wrote, “Her signature polka dots and bows have been my salvation in a way akin to support groups, SSRIs and exercise. They are the armour of a person who is kicking against the darkness, albeit with well-manicured accessories. I often fear that one day that darkness is going to swallow me whole and everything, including lemon prints and flamingo clutches, will look flat and colourless to me. Fashion might appear superfluous to some, but it’s so often an external reflection of whether we have a bit of spring in our step.”

Melania Trump’s Offensive Jacket

On June 21st, First Lady Melania Trump was photographed stepping out of a vehicle on her way to visit migrant detention centres in Texas wearing an army green jacket with the words “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” scrawled in paint on the back. The jacket was identified as a $39 item from Zara and perhaps even more puzzling than Melania’s decision to wear the jacket at such a sensitive moment was the mystery of how the designer duds-loving First Lady even her hands on a jacket from Zara. We described the jacket as “less poor taste than it is downright offensive” considering the callous message it sent out: that migrant children who have been separated from their families do not matter. Trump maintained the jacket had no such meaning until months later, when she admitted that the weaponized message was aimed at journalists reporting on her husband’s infidelities.

Tyler Mitchell Shoots the Cover of Vogue

A 23-year-old Black photographer shooting Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue would be noteworthy in itself, but what made the story truly historic was that Mitchell is the first Black photographer hired to shoot the cover of Vogue in the entirety of the magazine’s 126 year history. According to sources, Beyoncé was given “unprecedented control” over the images of her that appeared in the magazine, and handpicked Mitchell to photograph her cover. So we have Beyoncé to thank for using her platform to amplify the voices of Black creators in mainstream culture.

 

Dolce & Gabbana Slammed for Racism

In a bid to capitalize on China becoming the second-largest market in the world after North America, Dolce & Gabbana attempted to show their appreciation for Chinese culture by releasing a video featuring a Chinese model struggling to eat Italian food using chopsticks. The video was widely decried as ignorant and culturally insensitive but the real drama began when screenshots of Stefano Gabbana calling Chinese people “Ignorant dirty smelling mafia” as well as the poop emoji were leaked to the media. At first, Gabbana claimed he had been hacked (yeah, right) but eventually took ownership of his words and apologized. However, Gabbana has a long history of having #nofilter, and this incident sealed Dolce & Gabbana’s status as fashion pariahs. Despite the apology, we predict it is unlikely the brand’s reputation will recover after this ugly debacle.