10 things worth celebrating in 2016
You may have noticed that 2016 has not been, shall we say, ideal. Sure, it's not been as bad as 72,000 B.C. when a volcanic super-eruption on the island of Sumatra in present-day Indonesia caused a worldwide nuclear winter; or, say, 1348, when the Black Death took hold and wiped out a third of the population of Europe. But it's still been pretty rubbish (just look at the new Toblerone). Thank god then for all the good things that happened! From Fabric's resurrection to the continuing resurgence of London's independent publishing scene, here are ten things worth celebrating in 2016.
Skepta won the Mercury!
Not simply a £25k prize, Skeppy's win marked the recognition of a genre long ignored by the mainstream media. Grime's collective power to galvanize youth can no longer be dismissed. Skepta's Mercury Prize win cemented 2016 as the year of grime — and the man born Joseph Junior Adenuga as the movement's undisputed king.
Edward Meadham made his triumphant return to fashion!
"Like his work, the story of Edward Meadham has its share of fairytale elements," wrote i-D's Anders Christian Madsen on the launch of the designer's first solo label, Blue Roses, at Dover Street Market this month. Jobless for almost two years following the insolvency of Meadham Kirchhoff — the much loved London label he ran with Benjamin Kirchhoff for seven years — Edward made his second foray into fashion in 2016 with Blue Roses (the first happened when he designed a small collection of clothes for Sophia Webster's darkly romantic presentation back in February). Arriving a year after waking up from a coma following extreme blood poisoning, Edward's comeback was, as Anders had it, "brilliant news for an industry [which] needs his otherworldly talent and astute points of view more than ever." Hear, hear.
The Fashion Institute of Technology opened its first black fashion designers exhibition!
This museum survey presents 75 garments by more than 60 black fashion designers — including London stars Grace Wales Bonner and Joe and Charlie Casely Hayford, as well as Americans like Patrick Kelly and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. Its aim, says FIT, is to examine "the significant, but often unrecognized, impact that designers of African descent have had on fashion." Following Wales Bonner's LVMH prize win in June, the exhibition champions the alternative perspectives that black designers contribute to fashion, and the value of diversity that is increasingly being recognized. What's more: it's on until May, 2017.
TV was really good!
Yes, Stranger Things was amazing as were Planet Earth II, Black Mirror, Hari Nef-starring Transparent, HyperNormalization, Atlanta, Orange Is the New Black, Grayson Perry's All Man, Deutschland 83, and anything with Louis Theroux in it. But did you know TV is now more diverse too? According to the good people at GLAAD, racial diversity and regular representation of LGBT people on broadcast TV is at a 12-year high, and while it's clear there's still a long way to go, it's certainly a step in the right direction.
London got its first Night Czar!
While London becomes even more cripplingly capitalist, crumbling under the weight of greedy developers, a ray of light shone through the cracks in the form of Amy Lamé, the city's first Night Czar and one of the first appointments by London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan. Her role involves being the bridge between the powers that be in Westminster and the capital's pubs, clubs, and bars — turning it into a thriving 24-hour city. Amy saved the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and has already been out on the newly-founded night tube, listening to the concerns of the public. We like her already. A night czar is born!
Fabric was saved!
Speaking of nightlife, here's proof that when the people do unite, they really won't be defeated. The outpouring of support from fans of the nightclub around the world really helped push the message to Islington Council and the Met Police that they were making a terrible mistake.
Solange Knowles returned!
Her album — the long-awaited follow-up to 2012's True EP — was so needed: for anyone who's had their hair touched without consent, for anyone who's been told they're not good enough, for the black alt movement that has been questioned. A Seat At The Table told their story. It's become a healing record for many people who listened to it.
Frank, Beyoncé, and Rihanna proved that R&B was experiencing a renaissance!
Lemonade rocked, AnTi was decidedly different, and Frank, well he had us singing "Nikes" for months. While R&B was never out of favor, its renaissance in 2016 delivered us some of the best albums of the year. Lest we forget the newcomers that also rose to prominence this year (we're looking at you Jorga Smith, Obongjayar, Mabel, Cosima, and Celeste)!
London's DIY zine revolution pushed on!
In glossy magazine land, there were sizable improvements in cover star diversity. Better still: London's DIY zines continued to be almost preposterously good, as documented in our short film about the creative minds behind Polyester, LAW, and Mushpit. These are three keep-it-on-your-bookshelf-thick-papered-zines for the 21st century, born out of love, sweat, tears, late nights, and paper cuts. Who said print was dead? Certainly no one at Gal-dem's triumphant V&A takeover.
Young people continued to make their voices heard!
If there was one thing worth celebrating in 2016, it would have to be you. You who voted overwhelmingly against Brexit. You who turned out against Trump. You who continued to take to the streets, to fight for a cause, to make your voices heard — be it to overturn burkini bans, in support of Black Lives Matter, or just making a racket, period. The year may be nearly over, but 2017 is just around the corner. Rise like lions after slumber and remember: you are the many, they are the few.
Text Matthew Whitehouse and Lynette Nylander