The Most Significant Fashion Moments of 2017


Fashion had a busy 2017. From designers like Clare Waight Keller, Olivier Lapidus, and Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia making their debuts at Givenchy, Lanvin, and Oscar de la Renta respectively, to the unfortunate passing of Azzedine Alaïa, Pierre Bergé, and Glenn O’Brien, it was a packed year. That doesn’t even begin to touch upon numerous collaborations between designers and artists, as well as between brands themselves. It would be nearly impossible for us to round up every bit of news that happened in the last 12 months (scrolling through CR’s homepage takes several minutes just to get through the past two weeks), so, instead, we’ve rounded up the 10 most talked about topics that rocked the fashion world.

Azzedine Alaïa

This year was bittersweet for fans of the revered designer. For the first time in six years, Alaïa returned to the couture runway with his favorite models, including Naomi Campbell and Karlie Kloss. There were even plans to open a new flagship location in London by 2018. Alas, a few months later the designer, who was 77, passed away, sending the world into mourning. “He made you feel like a star because he did all of the work himself, pinning each fold carefully along your curves. He’s one of the few designers I know who could realize an entire dress or jacket himself,” Carine remembered. “He loved women, and he loved listening to them—learning their loves and likes and dislikes. This is what made him so good at what he did. He understood women so keenly and loved them so sincerely. You felt that love in every single piece.”

Riccardo’s Refocus

After 12 years at the helm of Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci walked away from it all earlier this year, but since then, the designer has more than kept himself busy. He collaborated with Nike on a basketball-inspired capsule collection, for which he invented his own team. While no one knows what he’ll get up to next (he claims to be enjoying his sabbatical, and has no immediate plans for a full-time job), rumors continue to swirl that he is Donatella’s top choice to take over the house of Versace. And don’t fret for Givenchy—the house made headlines when it hired former Chloé designer Clare Waight Keller to take over.

Fashion Gets Political

The CFDA came out swinging in support of Planned Parenthood in 2017, passing out buttons on behalf of the non-profit during New York Fashion Week in February, and honoring Cecile Richards, the organizations president, at its annual award ceremony. That didn’t stop there—in July, Proenza Schouler released a campaign video with activists in support of the healthcare provider. Meanwhile, on the runway designers got active. Among the many political shows this season, a standout was when Virgil Abloh paired up with artist Jenny Holzer for his Pitti Uomo debut, drawing attention to the refugee crisis. And in September, the CFDA threw its weight behind the ACLU by launching another pin campaign, and teaming up with Lyft to donate proceeds of fashion week ride hails to the organization fighting bigotry and hate.

Model’s Rights

The treatment of models within the industry was deeply scrutinized this year, which began when casting director James Scully called out Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes for their alleged abuse of models at a Balenciaga casting. The duo denied the accusations, but it didn’t stop the Spanish house from cutting ties with them. Meanwhile, models had a newfound sense of empowerment, using social media to call out instances of workplace sexual assault, including Cameron Russell’s letter on Instagram. This spring, the French government passed a law requiring that models have medical certificates documenting healthy weight, and that all public advertising must feature a disclaimer if the model had been retouched. While many were hopeful by the legislation, there were questions about whether or not the fashion industry would comply. Things seemed to solidify much more in September when luxury conglomerates Kering and LVMH teamed up to create a charter that officially bans size-0 and underage models from both their runways and their campaigns. On a positive note, 2017 saw a spike in diversity on the runway, with every show at New York Fashion Week featuring at least two models of color, and campaigns being even more inclusive.

Christopher Bailey Exits Burberry

No one saw Christopher Bailey’s departure from Burberry coming, mostly because the modern iteration of the brand came directly from him—in the 16 years since helming the brand, Bailey helped the British house transition from an iconic heritage brand to a major contemporary player, and at one point briefly held both creative director and CEO titles. For what it’s worth, the split seems entirely amicable, with Bailey staying on at the house (and overseeing the transition) until December 2018. This is not unlike how when he stepped down as CEO, but made sure to help his replacement, Marco Gobbetti take over the position earlier in the year. Considering 2017 posed as some of Bailey’s best collections for the label yet, we’re quite looking forward to his bittersweet final few seasons.

Rihanna’s Fenty

No one can deny that Rihanna had a major year in fashion in 2017. Her cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, was a smash success, due in part to the fact that Rih Rih’s collection was as inclusive as possible for all skin tones, featuring 40 different shades of foundation, proving that makeup and the beauty industry can get your skin tone right the first time, as long as brands are willing to offer enough products. “I didn’t care how long it took, I was going to make sure that we covered most skin tones,” she once said. “Diversity and inclusivity are important to the brand. I hope that fans, makeup lovers, and makeup artists feel that.” Naturally she’s expanding the line—just this week she announced a slew of new matte lipstick shades. Meanwhile, her fashion line with Puma continued to take the fashion world by storm. Fenty’s fur slides were undoubtedly the shoe of the summer, and its Spring/Summer 2018 show—which featured BMX bikes and a mountain of purple sand—was a highlight ofNew York Fashion Week.

The Solo Superstar

Fashion has increasingly infiltrated museums over the past 10 years, with numerous explorations of the artistry and meaning behind clothes. But in 2017 a lot of focus shifted onto specific designers, with a number of solo exhibits all over the world that dove into what made each one an icon. The Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt had a tribute to Jil Sander, the Nassau Country Museum of Art in New York produced a show about the late Halston, Marrakech saw the opening of an entire YSL museum, and numerous tributes around the world to Christian Dior celebrating the 70th anniversary of the house. Of course, the most notable show was the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit of Rei Kawakubo, the museum’s first monolithic show of a living designer since 1983. While the debate of whether or not fashion is art rages on, everyone seemed to agree that Kawakubo and her label Comme des Garçons is undoubtedly artistic expression.

Raf Comes to America

After years of rumors that he was headed to Calvin Klein, Raf Simons finally made his runway debut stateside, presenting an acclaimed collection for the American brand. Naturally, he was inspired by Americana themes, using elements of Western shirt styles, cowboy boots, and denim. In February Simons too moved his namesake menswear line to the Big Apple as well with an “I <3 NY” themed collection. The importance of his star power cannot be understated—as a designer who has international clout, Simons not only re-invigorated Calvin Klein, but also New York as a fashion capitol, in a year when many designers decamped for Europe.

Kaia Gerber’s Debut Season

There was never any doubt that the fashion industry would embrace Kaia Gerber, daughter of original the supermodel, Cindy Crawford. But it’s unlikely that anyone could have predicted the landmark debut show season she had—appearing on every runway of note in all four major fashion cities, starting with Calvin Klein. She even closed out 2017 by walking in Chanel’s Pre-Fall show in Hamburg. Without a doubt, Gerber has earned the status of rookie of the year.

Remembering Versace

This year marked the 20th anniversary of Gianni Versace’s death, and based on all the media attention it received, it was clear that his memory had not diminished in the public’s eyes. In particular, FX, the network behind the highly anticipated drama American Crime Story: Versace, released countless teases of the show, including a full trailer featuring stars Penelope Cruz and Édgar Ramírez. But by far the most iconic Versace moment this year came from Donatella herself, who used her Spring 2018 show as an all-out tribute to her brother. The collection drew entirely from his most celebrated collections, and the soundtrack featured a spoken-word piece about his legacy.


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