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This year’s ultimate fashion moments

Riotous feminist protests, rebellious designers revamping storied houses, and cult model comebacks: this is fashion’s year in review

For a year whose standout trend was dressing normally, 2014 was surprisingly packed with moments of sartorial excitement. King Karl – as ever – led the way, with a duo of catwalk shows that caught us completely off-guard (anyone who says they had predicted a Chanel-branded supermarket is lying). But Lagerfeld wasn't the only one to make us stand up and take notice. We welcomed the arrival of the new stars of fashion design, applauded risk-takers knocking down industry barriers, and sadly bid farewell to some of our most beloved figures. Here are the defining fashion moments of 2014. 


Barneys New York’s casting of 17 transgender models for a SS14 campaign spoke volumes about how the fashion world is embracing gender fluidity. 2014 has been a big year for transgender models – thanks to the likes of Andreja PejicHari Nef and Lea T – and for a major, mainstream department store to offer their nod of support was groundbreaking. Shot by Bruce Weber, the “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters” campaign featured models from across the trans-spectrum.


Since taking over at Marc By Marc Jacobs, long-time friends Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier have injected the brand with British attitude. Their debut show for AW14 was knockout, with feisty gamer girls walking the runway in a mix of motocross-inspired moonboots and graphic branding, Munchkin tartan from The Wizard Of Oz, and nods to Japanese samurai and anime culture. With a SS15 show that featured mohawk buns and bras worn over shirts in an ode to London raves, not to mention an Instagram cast campaign of blue-haired, personality-packed models, Marc By Marc Jacobs has been one of the year’s biggest success stories.    


“Today is a new day. A big day,” began Nicolas Ghesquière’s intimate letter welcoming guests to the Vuitton AW14 show, his first for the house. The former creative director at Balenciaga set the tone with a minimalist, sunlit backgrop that focussed all attention on the clothes. Rightly so – with subtle, seventies-inspired suede and leather pieces that perverted the female form, the collection was inspired. To borrow Ghesquière's words, he gave us a “familiar wardrobe that appealed to the collective unconsciousness.” We could connect with the pieces, but they had been imagined in a way that was fresh and exciting. 


Only the inimitable Karl Lagerfeld could reduce fashion editors to crazed looters stuffing onions and mops into their designer handbags. Such was the surrealism of Chanel’s AW14 supermarché, which expertly tapped into the 2014 trend of perverting reality by reimagining grocery shopping as a high-fashion spectacle. Kirsten Owen and Stella Tennant stopped for a runway chat dressed in Stepford wife tweed and lace-up trainers, Soo Joo Park brought a vacuum cleaner, and Lagerfeld and Cara Delevingne (who was his muse of the year, leading the SS15 riot and dueting with Pharrell in a modern Chanel fairytale) navigated the food aisles hand in hand.  


A cult actress huskily whispering the lyrics to “Happy Days Are Here Again” made for the year’s most mesmerising fashion show voiceover. Such was the curve-ball thrown our way by the provocateur Marc Jacobs, who upended the fashion world’s preoccupation with youth by collaborating with 65-year-old Jessica Lange for his AW14 campaign. Speaking about his “obsession” with the actress in a Dazed interview, Jacobs described her voice as “almost narcotic.” He used this quality to great effect at his AW14 show, where the combination of a melancholic Lange chanting hopeful lyrics as a parade of soft pastel clothes glided past made for a uniquely trippy experience.  


For his eagerly-anticipated Moschino debut, Jeremy Scott brought fast fashion to the runway, Americana-style. The AW14 show represented a changing of the Moschino guard. With not-so-subtle references to Spongebob and chocolate bars, a model channeling a McDonald’s employee, and sweaters embossed with “Cash Cow” and “Fur Real,” it was insta-fashion for the pop-culture-hungry masses. And it had more than just golden arches in common with McDonald’s: in a bold precedent that scorned the industry’s usual six-month delay, the clothes were available for consumption as soon as the show ended. 


When Kendall Jenner strutted beneath a cloudy Magritte canopy in her runway debut at Marc Jacobs AW14, she leapt from reality star to legitimate fashion model. The American designer took a chance on Jenner when no-one else was game, saying “I tried to be really objective and I liked how she looked in the clothes.” In doing so, Jacobs elevated the young Kardashian into the echelons of fashion’s most in-demand muses. She would go on to walk for Givenchy and Balmain, chant feminist slogans in Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel riot, star on our winter cover photographed by Ben Toms and styled by Robbie Spencer.


Craig Green marked himself as a trailblazer of the British menswear scene with a stunningly pared-back SS15 show that had the front row reaching for tissues. In a striking counterpoint to the multitude of collections packed with obvious references and neatly wrapped Insta-moments, Green’s first solo show outside MAN sent barefoot boys down the runway in muted tones, fabric flowing freely from wooden sculptures set behind their heads. The masterclass in the art of movement was complemented by the soothing sounds of Enya, with Dazed editor Isabella Burley labelling the display “a truly rare and honest moment for fashion.” Green's genius has since been rewarded with the 2014 British Fashion Award for Emerging Menswear Designer.  


The fashion world was shaken by the passing of legendary Central Saint Martins professor Louise Wilson OBE, who for the past 22 years had guided the most promising design talents as head of the prestigious MA Fashion course. Many of her students – including Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane – would make waves in the industry, and her death inspired an outpouring of tributes from those who blossomed under her watch. Kane was to-the-point: “Without Louise I would not be here.” Her legacy is a generation of designers with incredible hands-on skills to match their creative impulses – as she said herself in her last interview, “My students are noticed by the people I respect from the quality of their work. It’s not all fur coat and no knickers. It’s fully knickered under the fur coat.”   


“At Margiela, a star is born,” exclaimed the article exposing Matthieu Blazy as a creative force driving the famously-cloaked workings of Maison Martin Margiela. Though Suzy Menkes’s July revelation came amidst a glowing review of Margiela’s Artisanal AW14 collection (which repurposed old prints into exquisite corsets and suits), it was met with disapproval from the house for disrupting its sacred code of silence. The publicity sparked a conversation about the merits of brands presenting themselves as an anonymous collective rather than as spearheaded by one designer. It didn't do Raf Simons’s former charge any harm, however, with Blazy’s year culminating in a move to Céline and a spot on the Dazed 100 list.


Fashion lost one of its most cherished designers when Oscar de la Renta, dresser of fashion icons including Jackie O, Beyoncé and Naomi Campbellpassed away after a long battle with cancer. Over a glittering 50-year career, de la Renta’s name became synonymous with romantic and feminine aesthetics. Admirers of the Dominican-American designer sang praises of both his work and character, with Campbell labelling him “the gentleman of fashion,” and Anna Wintour praising him as “everything you could want a friend to be.” But Wintour refused to describe de la Renta's death as marking the end of an era, saying his creations were timeless and could not be confined to any period in time.


When Andreja (formerly Andrej) Pejic – arguably the most successful androgynous model of all time – came out as trans, she made her boldest stomp on gender barriers to-date. The model is renowned for blurring gender boundaries in the industry, having walked in both men’s and women’s shows throughout her career: from donning men’s suits for Comme de Garçons to famously glamming it up in a Jean Paul Gautier bridal gown. Pejic’s openness about her gender reassignment (she is making a documentary about the transition) offers an intimate insight into the process and sends a message about ‘being yourself’ that will have a transformative impact surpassing fashion.


Streetwear game-changers Hood By Air eschewed tradition with a three-part SS15 extravaganza (“Ego, Superego and Id”) that took us from a New York runway to a decrepit Parisian office building, before finishing off with a rave at MoMA. Each segment had a distinct purpose. New York was all about the clothes (though boychild did also lead a Great Dane down the catwalk), with sexed-up suits, chunky boots and skin-flaunting leather jackets. Paris was more fetishistic art exhibition than fashion show, models draped over chairs in a dark display of what Shayne Oliver described as “sartorial peacocking.” But the real showstopper came at the Halloween-party-slash-rave-slash-fashion-show held in the sacred halls of MoMA. In an explosive collision of the art, music and fashion worlds, Mykki Blanco busted out beats as HBA-clad dancers and models paraded across the stage. 


After months of hinting at a collaboration, Miley Cyrus and Jeremy Scott finally joined forces when the teen-idol-turned-wild-child designed a series of sculptures and accessories (made from tokens thrown at her by fans during concerts) for Scott’s tropicana meets Burning Man SS15 show. Cyrus joined the designer for the finale, the two walking the runway as triumphant creators of a trippy, hippy, psychedelic world where pineapples were pinned to everyone’s heads. The show looks to have sparked a foray into the art world for Cyrus, with the singer presenting a more extensive exhibition of her sculptures (titled “Dirty Hippy”) at NYFW and again at Art Basel Miami two weeks ago.


Their shows are often spectacular and sensory with wafts of their Penhaligon’s fragrance drifting through the aisles, but no one expected the extremes to which SS15 would go. Street-cast models – including artist Arvida Byström – walked the runway past a tree hung with bloodied tampons, whilst a zine declared the designers’ political manifesto – it was the DIY alternative to Lagerfeld’s immaculate Chanel-clad placard holders. With recent news that the duo will not be returning to London Fashion Week next season, the riotous show is made even more monumental.


The original baby-doll model of the noughties walked back into the limelight – and across a purple sand-dune catwalk – when she opened Prada’s remarkable SS15 show after a six-year industry hiatus.  Despite changing the face of high fashion with her wide-set eyes and otherworldly visage, the Australian gave it all up in 2008 to focus on acting. But in a season of cult model comebacks (including Lara Stone at the same Prada show and Kirsten Owen at Rick Owens and Rochas), Ward’s was the most stirring: a combination of its total unexpectedness, the era she represented, and the dazzling folkloric SS15 show. In a backstage photo, renowned make-up artist Pat McGrath called Ward “beautiful and iconic” – a perfect summation.    


Never one to shy away from a spectacle, John-Paul Gaultier’s last ready-to-wear show paid homage to past collections in a beauty pageant extravaganza that was as celebratory as it was camp – a fitting tribute to the designer. Gaultier has been a refreshingly irreverent force in fashion over a stellar 38-year career, and though he’s not done with the industry yet (he’s focusing on couture), his final ready-to-wear collection marked the end of an era. It was certainly an ending of note. Highlights of ‘Miss Jean Paul Gautier 2015’ included a light-hearted nod – via model doppelgangers – to renowned fashion editors Suzy Menkes and Grace Coddington, and the crowning of ‘beauty queen’ Coco Rocha (complete with cued faint).  


J.W. Anderson, the pioneering designer attributed with inspiring the new wave of avant-bland and dismissing gender codes with his own line, has ripped apart the rulebook at Loewe since taking over earlier this year. He started with the Spanish house’s branding, altering the logo and drawing on old-school Steven Meisel photographs for a campaign that spoke to leisure and simplicity, before presenting stripped-back SS15 men’s and women’s collections. After the womenswear show, which played out as a minimalist dreamscape, Anderson opined that “Boredom is the biggest problem in fashion.” One thing’s for sure: with the young Irishman (who just won Menswear Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards and secured a spot in the Dazed 100) at the helm, Loewe won’t be boring anyone.  


In his second groundbreaking show of the year, Karl Lagerfeld morphed his SS15 Chanel girls into an army of rioting feminists who chanted their way down a runway reimagined as a Parisian boulevard. 2014 has undoubtedly been a statement year for girl power, with narky Marc By Marc Jacobs motogirls and Emma Watson’s UN campaign (which the show referenced with a “He for She” banner). Critics claimed the spectacle was merely a publicity stunt, to which the Chanel chief responded, “it was right for the moment.” There’s no doubting Lagerfeld is the master of championing the zeitgeist and, like the show or not, it affirmed that strong, independent girls are in fashion.


In an exciting collision of contrasting forces, the famously low-key Maison Martin Margiela – where designers don white labcoats – appointed flamboyant provocateur John Galliano to run proceedings. The controversial former Dior designer has been out of the fashion game since being disgraced for an anti-Semitic rant in 2011. But with Matthieu Blazy moving to Céline, the Parisian house is looking to shake things up – a guarantee with the innovative Brit in the driving seat. All will be revealed when Galliano stages his debut show for Margiela in London in January.