the biggest fashion moments of 2018

From the Golden Globes blackout to Pope Riri stirring us into a devotional fervour at the Met Gala, to Virgil at LV and a few scandals thrown in too, here's what's worth remembering.

by Osman Ahmed
17 December 2018, 4:29pm

There were radioactive poisonings in a provincial Zizzi. There was Yanny and/or Laurel. There was Lindsay Lohan in Mykonos, bitch. It was almost the year that Croatia became known for something other than its music festivals. It was the year we did people’s birth charts without their consent. It was the year that the world blessed us with Gym Kardashian and creeped us out with the Theresa May shuffle. Remember that moth meme? 2018. Ever try the Google Arts and Culture Selfie? Again, 2018. This was the year that the Obamas bucked convention and unveiled their bright, colourful official portraits by African-American painters — only for someone to turn Barack’s into a Homer-Simpson-in-the-bushes meme. So 2018. How could you sum up the year in three words? Big Dick Energy. In just two? Wakanda Forever! In one: Woke.

Yep, 2018 was the year the world woke up. For fashion, as HRH Meghan noted at the Fashion Awards last week, it used to be “cool to be cruel”; now it’s “cool to be kind”. We had politics on the catwalk; exposés of abuse and racism; more diversity in shows and campaigns; major luxury brands going fur-free; we even had a person of colour shoot the September issue of Vogue. It was also the year that Fashion went Pop! Teenagers queuing for Supreme collabs. Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton. Viral Balenciaga memes. Kate Moss at a royal wedding. The Queen at a fashion show!

Thought fashion was about clothes? Not anymore. Here’s everything you need know to know about 2018’s fashion moments.

Golden Globes Blackout
2017 may have been the year that #MeToo surfaced, but arguably 2018 was the year it really become part of the collective conscience. 2018 started with a sombre moment at the 75th Golden Globes, where every woman in attendance wore black to reiterate that Time really is Up. Oprah made an emotional speech that summed it all up and the image of a sea of black was sort of like a modern-day Black Ascot.

The Queen at London Fashion Week
Perhaps it’s so unlike the Queen to go to a fashion show that meant it was such a heart-warming moment to see her at one. Her Majesty took her velvet-cushioned seat at Richard Quinn’s show right next to Anna Wintour. She then giggled as models in homages to her Balmoral headscarves and T-shirts emblazoned with ‘God Save The Quinn’ glided past her. It wasn’t just for any old reason, either — she presented Quinn with the inaugural QEII award for British Design. Not bad for one of London’s emerging designers.

Beyoncé at Coachella
Ah, Beyoncé. Not only did she assert herself as the greatest living performer on the planet — don’t even bother denying it — at Coachella in April, but she also ignited the frenzy for a very 2k18 phenomenon: ‘Gen Z Yellow’. Sure, there was a Destiny’s Child reunion and a heart-warming moment on stage with her sister Solange, but what caught our attention was the high-voltage production that would put Busby Berkeley to shame — and the fact that it was all yellow, to quote Chris Martin. Everything from the Balmain hoodie on Bey to the costumes of her 200 or so backing brass band players, singers and dancers — bright, see-it-from-a-mile-away yellow. Oh, and she also came out dressed as Nefertiti. From one queen to another.

Prada Gets Its Bang Back
No one ever needed convincing about the eternal allure of Prada and its matriarch, Miuccia. However, in 2016 business had taken a turn for the worse when Prada struggled to recover from its disjointed pricing architecture and decision to go more upmarket in the mid-00s. Sales were down almost 10 percent. Then, Miuccia’s aquiline nose for the zeitgeist resulted in a moment that was both nostalgic and relevant for the streetwear craze. In February, the Italian brand’s show was a canon of Prada’s most iconic styles — the red stripe of the relaunched Linea Rossa; the crispy black nylon with triangular plaques; the flames, bananas and lipsticks of bygone cult collections. Prada got its bang back and in the first half of the 2018 fiscal year, sales at the Prada Group were €1.5 billion, up more than 9 percent from the same period last year, beating analyst estimates.

Diversity Become De Rigueur on the Catwalk
The spring/summer 19 catwalks were the most diverse we’ve ever seen. According to the season report by The Fashion Spot, racial diversity reached an all-time high, with 36.1 percent of all castings across the various cities going to models of colour, a noteworthy 3.6 increase on autumn/winter 18. Half of the top models were women of colour — including Adut Akech, Hyun Ji Shin, He Cong and Sora Choi. In February, Anok Yai, the Sudan-born model, was the first black model to open Prada since Naomi Campbell in 1991. Comme des Garçons cast black models in its shows for the first time in over two decades. And Balenciaga cast eight rising Jamaican stars from mother agency Saint International. Body and gender diversity was at an all-time high, too.

The Bride Wore Givenchy Haute Couture…
Meghan Markle was an unprecedented royal bride in more ways than one — not only is she mixed-race, she’s an actress, she’s divorced -- she’s even American. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that she would opt for something unconventional for her wedding dress, and she did: Givenchy Haute Couture. The gown she wore, designed by Clare Waight Keller, wasn’t the obvious choice. Firstly, despite the fact that Waight Keller is British, Givenchy is most certainly not. It would also mark the birth of a new friendship… More on that later.

Virgil at Vuitton
When Virgil Abloh was appointed artistic director of Louis Vuitton, the response was incredible. Fans of his Off-White streetwear and seemingly endless collaborations rejoiced. And for many people of colour, it was a moment of celebration — a black man was being recognised and given responsibility for LVMH’s flagship brand. His debut show in June, titled The Vocabulary According To Virgil Abloh, ended with an emotional moment between the designer and his friend Kanye West.

Kim at Dior
In a game of musical chairs, Kim Jones moved from Louis Vuitton to Dior Homme (although he’s cut the ‘Homme’). Kris van Assche, by the way, went from Dior to Berluti. Jones made his debut in June, too. His was staged around a giant Kaws teddy bear made from roses. There was elegant tailoring, denim monograms, utilitarian saddle bags for men, Ambush-designed jewellery, Alyx-designed hardware. Hell, there was even a shirt entirely embroidered with Lemarié feathers. It marked a new dawn for Dior, one that Jones only continue to evolve.

The Pope Wears Prada
Catholic gilt! Sartorial saints and sinners! Oh My Galliano! The opportunities for Met Gala-related puns and headlines this year were endless as the annual bash from ‘Heavenly Bodies’, curator Andrew Bolton’s brilliant exhibition, which displays fashion inspired by Catholicism. Presided over by Anna Wintour, the annual New York fundraiser is essentially a costume ball where Hollywood meets high society; fashion meets theatreland; and music meets museum patrons. Any excuse for celebrities to don headpieces and ten-foot-long capes. Of course, it was Rihanna who ‘won’ Met Gala, as usual. She came in a Margiela Artisanal ode to one of Galliano’s incredible looks in the exhibition.

Melania Trump Doesn’t Really Care, Do You?
Melania, Melania, Melania. Either the First Lady is an undercover comedienne, trolling us with her outré outfit choices as a questionable form of dryly dark, ironic satire — or as that Zara jacket quite literally spelt out: she just really doesn’t care. Mrs Trump has had a few bold fashion moments this year, but none of them are particularly honourable. Of course, there was the aforementioned Zara coat — worn to visit a migrant detention centre. There were the stilettos on board to see victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. There was the colonial pith helmet in Kenya and the other colonial Poirot costume in Egypt. There was the wearing of Dolce & Gabbana, just after they were outed for racism in China.

Crazy Rich Asians: A Fashion Fairytale
As the underdog blockbuster success of the year, Crazy Rich Asians was a moment unto itself. It is officially the most successful studio rom com in nine years, courtesy of (rather than despite) its all-Asian cast. And the costumes! The film was a sumptuous parade of fashion — Dior! Missoni! — that celebrated the conspicuous consumption at its most glittering.

That Balenciaga Meme
It doesn’t really need an explanation. Pure genius courtesy of fashion meme master @hey_reilly!

Valentino Hits Its Couture Crescendo
You know a fashion moment when you see one. Valentino’s couture show in July was — as I wrote for i-D at the time — the best fashion show I’d ever been to. “This one was especially pertinent at a time when high fashion is in danger of losing its lustre to never-ending negative commentary, flagrant referencing from designers big and small and, generally speaking, a landscape marked by unemotional and uninspiring narratives,” I wrote at the time. Since the show, it has been popular on every red carpet, and doubtlessly contributed to Pierpaolo Piccioli taking home the gong for Designer of the Year at The Fashion Awards in December.

John Galliano’s Hit Podcast
Who knew that the legendary John Galliano would be such a great fit for radio? The designer launched his own podcast ‘The Memory of… With John Galliano’ in June, to coincide with his artisanal (or as he pronounces it, artis-anal) Maison Martin Margiela menswear collection. His drawl extends to sensually whispering words such as “mercurial oil” and “noblesse” into the microphone. It’s essentially fashion ASMR. (Also we launched our own podcast).

Tyler Mitchell Shoots the September Cover of US Vogue
In August, Tyler Mitchell became the first African-American photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue in its 125-year history — at the tender age of 23 nonetheless. Photographing Beyoncé, Mitchell became a part of history, but he has long been a contributor to i-D (obvs).

Chanel, Versace, Michael Kors, Burberry, Gucci Go Fur-Free
2018 could go down as the year that fur went out of fashion. Several major luxury houses pledged to stop using fur, including Burberry (which was also found out for burning almost £30 million worth of stock) and Chanel. It raised the important question of just whether all brands should ban fur — or whether faux fur is actually an environmentally-unfriendly alternative. The debate continues.


Nike Just Did It: Colin Kaepernick Campaign
Before starring in a Nike campaign, Colin Kaepernick was better known as the as the NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers who refused to stand during the national anthem in 2016. His teammates joined him in protesting police brutality in a gesture that was intended to draw attention to the police killings of African-Americans. Donald Trump took him on, and once his contract was up, not a single team offered him a new one. It made him a surprising, if not divisive, choice for Nike’s ad campaign, in which his face is emblazoned with the caption: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Figures such as LeBron James and Serena Williams aired their support, and the company profits went up.

The Ones We Lost
Many fashion legends passed away this year. RIP Judy Blame, Hubert de Givenchy, Michael Howells, Annabelle Neilson and Anna Harvey, to name only a few.

Philip Green and #MeToo
The Topshop boss came under fire for allegations of sexual harassment and bullying. However, it remains unclear what the repercussions are for Sir Philip. Let’s hope time’s up!

Dolce & Gabbana in Hot Water
Ah, Dolce. Well, Gabbana actually. Old Stefano seems to be making a habit of getting himself in trouble. Only this time it might just be the fatal. It all started with a backlash, led by Diet Prada, over video ads for the brand’s Chinese runway show, considered by many as racist. The video featured a Chinese model struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with a pair of chopsticks. Then DMs were sent from Stefan’s Instagram account (he claims he was hacked), in response to accusations of racism, saying: “From now on in all the interviews that I will do international I will say that the country of [poo emoji] is China.” DM’s from his account also accused the Chinese of eating dogs, and called the Chinese an “Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia”. The messages quickly went viral and the backlash, particularly in China, went viral too. Videos quickly circulated of people burning D&G products and using them to clean toilets. The Italian brand cancelled its planned show in Shanghai and has since been dropped by several global retailers, and it remains what 2019 holds for it.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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