Fashion in 2017: the five biggest developments on and off the catwalk, the biggest names, and the creations that caught our eye
China became the No. 1 luxury market, Brigitte Macron became France’s first lady and new international style icon, e-commerce’s expansion gathered pace, and the #metoo campaign struck home – just some of the year’s highlights
1. Fashion’s revolving door policy keeps on going
The turnover at luxury brands keeps going (it’s a wonder that Karl Lagerfeld is still at the helm of Chanel after 30-plus years). Riccardo Tisci left Givenchy at the beginning of the year and was replaced by Clare Waight-Keller. Waight-Keller’s position at Chloe went to former Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi.
Another Balenciaga alum, Bouchra Jarrar, left Lanvin, making way for Olivier Lapidus to fill her shoes (and badly, we might add). The only successful designer debut in our eyes was Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, but that could change quickly if the rumours are true and Phoebe Philo moves to Burberry to replace Christopher Bailey, who is stepping down from the British brand. Watch this space!
2. Chasing unicorns online
Ever since Farfetch.com was crowned the industry’s first unicorn (an online company worth US$1 billion or more), everyone has been racing to claim their share of the online market. Private equity firm Apax Partners acquired a majority stake in MatchesFashion.com, valuing the company at a reported US$1 billion. LVMH launched its first e-commerce venture, 24sevres.com, in collaboration with department store Le Bon Marché.
The Chinese market also forged ahead, with power player JD.com investing US$397 million in international e-tailer Farfetch.com and later launching its first-ever luxury platform, Toplife.com, while South China Morning Post owner Alibaba launched Luxury Pavilion on Tmall. Also making waves is MyMM.com, a mobile shopping platform that addresses China’s latest online trend – social commerce.
3. Girls strike back
The social media hashtag campaign #metoo has empowered women around the world to speak out against harassment of any form, and members of the fashion industry were no exception. The year began with a renowned casting director taking to social media to admonish Balenciaga for its poor treatment of models, and controversy ensued.
The furore culminated in luxury giants such as LVMH and Kering group forming a new charter to promote the well-being of models. Later in the year notorious photographer Terry Richardson was publicly outed for his alleged misconduct with women during photoshoots. He was subsequently banned by media giant Conde Nast International.
4. China power
It was only a matter of time before spending in China bounced back, and this year proves that the it is on track to becoming the world’s biggest luxury market. Top European brands reported robust sales for the third quarter thanks to increased spending in China as the Euro begins to strengthen.
That, however, didn’t stop American brand Victoria’s Secret for trying to capture their share of the market by hosting their annual fashion show in Shanghai in November. The event wasn’t without its controversies, but apparently it will be worth it – by 2021 the company expects to generate US$1 billion in annual revenue from China alone.
5. Fashion week 2.0
With the see-now, buy-now concept officially dead, fashion week organisers needed to make it relevant again. In a bid to mix things up, brands such as Gucci and Bottega Veneta held their first co-ed shows in February. Meanwhile other designers pledged allegiance to a new city as Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte all ditched New York for Paris.
Determined to do things different, Donatella Versace restored some much-needed glamour to Milan Fashion Week by sending the original Versace supermodels, including Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni and Helena Christensen, down the catwalk. Old school never fails.
The faces that made headlines
Kendall Jenner may still have legions of fans, but the new face everyone was talking about was Kaia Gerber. The equally leggy daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford made her catwalk debut at Calvin Klein’s spring/summer 2018 show and continued to walk for brands like Marc Jacobs and Off-White.
Following closely behind was mixed-race beauty Adwoa Aboah, who was crowned Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards after landing the cover of Vogue UK magazine (it also happened to be the first issue by its first male, and first black, editor, Edward Enninful).
Bored with Melania Trump and her US$50,000 Dolce coats, we turned our attention to another first lady – France’s stylish Brigitte Macron. And while we found new fashion icons, we lost one of our favourites when French couturier Azzedine Alaia passed away unexpectedly at the age of 82.
And what we coveted …
Our social media feeds were clogged with must-have looks from creative shirting to velvet dresses while must-have pieces included Cult Gaia’s wicker baskets, Gucci’s logo T-shirts (Rihanna wore it best) and J.W. Anderson’s Pierce bag.
Vetements may have staged a big event in Hong Kong, but people are still talking about the Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration (it also resulted in the Carlyle Group acquiring a minority stake in the street brand). As for the next big label? Our money is on British brand Halpern.