It was the year Boho proved its staying power: prints kept popping, color became almost as cool as black, and shoes finally became bigger stars than bags. The It Bag died – there is certainly no one bag in 2016 that could lay claim to being an “It” – and the classic Birkin all but disappeared. Everything was embellished or printed or flowered or dotted or striped – bags, shoes, headbands, scarves, glasses – and because clothes and accessories became so outrageous and flamboyant and just buoyant in general, hair and makeup went so much simpler.
There were no huge trends in hair and makeup, there was everything: long hair, bobs, ponytails, waves, beachy waves, straight hair, one color hair, multi-color hair. However, overwhelmingly, the crazy trends of years’ past – silver hair, blue hair, pink hair, gradient hair, striped hair – slipped into the background in favor of simple. Red lipstick looked good, as did deep plum lipstick, but so did all the neutral shades. Smoky eyes finally good a backseat for a clearer look, but even the highest glamour looks of 2016 had this in common: they were clean. And ever so slightly under-played.
2016 NYFW via GIPHY
In contrast, textured and embellished and layered clothes led the way, with yards and yards of tulle and chiffon, topped with tough leather jackets and gold trimmed military coats (thanks, Melania and Beyonce’, for all the Balmain). Red and black remained the top color combo, but pretty much everything went – even the long forgotten and dismissed brown. The bodysuit came back, skinny jeans went out, and hemlines went crashing down to maxi and midi – and sky high to mini.
But prices ONLY went up: designer clothes became so overwhelmingly high priced and over the top that retail sales for women’s clothes went down. Which means we saw a lot more Zara, H&M, Topshop, Forever 21, Club Monaco and vintage finds on not just savvy girls on the street, but on rich society ladies and celebrities. Earrings – longer and bigger than ever – made a serious comeback, but it was definitely a good year for jewelry: the design of fine jewelry and costume jewelry just gets more and more interesting and intricate all the time.
To be fair, I pay £9k a year to listen to people reading from power points so this is a right bargain https://t.co/tuD7U4sEpV
— Jazz (@jasminewright__) November 4, 2016
Mens’ clothes took a front seat: more designers and brands than ever, and a rising retail economy in the mens’ sector. And let’s face it, guys like Tom Hardy and Tom Hiddleston (those elegant Brits) made menswear and haberdashery look great again.
And who were the big fashion stars of 2016? Of course, Kendall and Gigi and Bella – and Kylie and Khloe – but all eyes were on Taylor Swift, who always looks chic and well put together, yet never really that original or interesting. If there are two women who are constantly amazing fashion-wise – who never disappoint – it’s Lady Gaga and Cate Blanchett. Gaga made a giant star out of her stylist-turned-designer, Brandon Maxwell, and Cate made Giorgio Armani look relevant again.
The young actresses at the Oscars didn’t disappoint either: Saoirse Ronan and Daisy Ridley and Brie Larson donned color and sparkles and flattering shapes that got them attention well beyond their acting. And Beyonce’ continued to prove that she can pretty much wear anything – and make it look amazing. Once again, attitude in fashion goes a long, long way. Except if you’re Kanye West. His shows for Yeezy were giant, crazy expensive – and pissed off the fashion press with long lines and long trips.
the year 2024. all clothing is kanye-branded. beige leotards cost $400. all clothing stores have been replaced by “merch tents.”
— Anna Silman (@annaesilman) September 7, 2016
— The Cut (@TheCut) February 11, 2016
And who were the design stars? The Designer of the Year is without a doubt Gucci’s Allesandro Michele, a rather modest man without a giant profile, who repackaged layering in a whole new way. He helped bring back volume to clothes: skirts got fuller and wider and longer, and sleeves got puffed and kimono’d. He combines prints and colors we would never imagine to marry, but they cohabitate beautifully and surprisingly. Brandon Maxwell made sleek, architectural and simple – black or white – look startling and modern. And ex-Valentino designer Maria Grazia Chiuri made her debut at Dior, the house’s very first female couturier.
Raf Simons climbed aboard the good ship Calvin Klein and will show his first American collection ever this February 2017. And Vetement’s anti-fashion designer Demna Gvasalia rose to being the top European designer of prominence, both with the oversized (and overpriced) looks at Vetement and at Balenciaga. It’s a great look for girls who don’t care about pretty. And for everyone else, there was Tom Ford, turning out beautiful and grown up chic clothes consistently – and proving that fashion designers can also make thrilling movie directors with his second film, Nocturnal Animals. No other fashion designer has ever had his kind of affect on the culture at large.
Tom Ford via GIPHY
It’s impossible to deny that 2016 was a year of high and lows – but it’s equally impossible to deny that 2016 left a mark on fashion that will remain for years to come.
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