▪ 2009

      The faltering global economy determined the direction of fashion during 2008. Initially, the euro's significant appreciation against the dollar proved a boon to style-conscious travelers who, visiting the U.S. from abroad as the year commenced, took advantage of the favourable exchange rate and purchased luxury goods in copious quantities. In the autumn, as the banking industry went into free-fall, Anya Hindmarch, whose eponymous accessories label was valued at £20 million (about $32.2 million), predicted a “new era of austerity” and said that the “luxury fashion market is going to shrink.”

      In a special September edition devoted to the “business of style,” Fortune magazine reported that summer sales had begun earlier than usual. Mickey Drexler, the CEO of J. Crew (formerly CEO at Gap), claimed that the depressed retail environment was the worst in his 40 years' experience. Fortune noted, however, that luxury groups “LVMH, Gucci, Tiffany, Coach, Burberry and Richemont … all showed solid revenue growth in the first half of the year,” and “newly affluent customers in China, Russia, and other emerging markets would more than compensate for any softness in consumer spending.” Christian Dior, for example, reported double-digit growth in China. At July's Paris couture shows, Karl Lagerfeld claimed that Chanel had Russian clients who each season acquired 30 to 35 pieces of the stratospherically priced handmade finery. Meanwhile, the August opening in New Delhi of Emporio—a nearly 30,000-sq-m (320,000-sq-ft) five-story luxury shopping mall complete with boutiques operated by Dior, Dolce e Gabbana, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Versace, and Vuitton—heralded the cessation of India's restrictions on Western luxury goods and was regarded as another positive sign that the luxury sector would thrive, despite the economic downturn. By October, however, the largest luxury chains and retailers were announcing double-digit drops in sales. The November–December Christmas shopping season showed no improvement, despite steep price cuts. Deep discount stores such as Wal-Mart, however, posted small gains.

      In an effort to attract customers in emerging markets, designers presented ready-to-wear directly inspired by the new business territories. At Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier displayed an Indian-themed brightly hued collection complete with Nehru jackets, turbans, and sari-inspired toga dresses; Lakshmi Menon—the Bangalore-born 27-year-old Ford model—flaunted Gaultier's clothes in the Hermès advertising campaign. Similarly, Alexander McQueen's 2008 winter men's wear collection—featuring trousers and coordinating shoes both made from sheeshedar, the mirrored Indian fabric, paired with a shaggy poncho—was motivated by a trip he made through the Indian states of Kerala, Bihar, and Rajasthan. Frida Giannini (Giannini, Frida ) created for Gucci commercially successful autumn-winter '08 collections for men and women that were embellished with coins, velvet, fur trim, and “folk-art” prints redolent of the opulence of tsarist Russia.

      Accessible sartorial trends proved popular and made the leap from designer runways to the street. Vibrant floral prints launched by Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquière, Prada, and Dries Van Noten for spring-summer, as well as the perky plaid separates presented for autumn-winter by Ralph Lauren, House of Holland, and D&G, became best sellers and were adapted by chain stores, which successfully sold inexpensive mass-market copies. The dramatic autumn-winter evening wear made by Prada from Swiss lace in gold and in black was classified by T Magazine as the “most photographed collection of the season.”

      Michael Kors's conservative-chic, retro-inspired autumn-winter collection included camel topcoats, suits with pencil skirts, romantic floral-print dresses, and cashmere sweaters. The look was inspired by Mad Men, the critically acclaimed cable television series about the advertising world in the 1960s, and the show in turn contributed to the New York designer's continued success. Kors CEO John Idol predicted that the luxury label would reach a billion [dollars] in sales within three years, in part because Kors had raised his profile through weekly appearances as a judge on the reality television series Project Runway.

      As a crisis mode dominated the economy, the fashionable set turned to comfortable clothes and accessories, including men's drawstring pajama pants designed by Miu Miu and Veronique Branquinho. The vest (or waistcoat) proved an alternative to a blazer for men and women. Young men on the street flaunted sloppy ski hats of the type actor Will Smith sported in the film Hancock. Music influenced the direction of footwear. Rightly anticipating demand, Nike, Converse, Lanvin, Dior, and Gucci produced metallic high-top sneakers similar to those worn by Jay-Z in the video for Rihanna's “Umbrella.” “Jazz lace ups”—functional dance-inspired footwear preferred by top models Kate Moss, Natalia Vodianova, and Agyness Deyn—eclipsed ballet slippers. The platinum blonde boyish crop that hairstylist Sam McKnight conceived for Mancunian Deyn became a British beauty craze as it was emulated by young men and women, including Londoner Pixie Geldof, the youngest daughter of Irish musician and philanthropist Bob Geldof.

      Shorts suits were favoured in summer by men and women as an alternative to trouser suits. Highlighting the best looks, Vogue paired thigh-grazing shorts by Vivienne Westwood, Marc Jacobs, and Balenciaga, among others, with blouses and jackets in a photo shoot called “Keep It Short.” In a newspaper article titled “Shorts Crack the Code,” the New York Times featured photographs of male executives in New York City wearing Bermuda shorts and blazers; the article noted that “fashion-besotted” hockey star Sean Avery appeared in a shorts suit “that showcased his athletic calves” while fulfilling a summer internship at Vogue.

      “Statement” jewelry—bold costume pieces such as cocktail rings, bejeweled necklaces, brooches, and swingy chandelier earrings—proliferated on the autumn-winter runways of Balenciaga, Burberry, Lanvin, Missoni, and Yves Saint Laurent and evolved to rival handbags for supremacy in the accessories category. Knockoffs of designer baubles were made widely available at innovative retailers such as Topshop in the United Kingdom and Forever 21 in the United States.

      Inexpensive clothes acquired cachet, thanks to endorsements by trend-setting celebrities and canny retailers. Patrick Robinson, the California-raised designer who had worked for Anne Klein, Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis, and Paco Rabanne, brought new gloss to the ailing Gap retail chain; his first collection as the retailer's head designer was introduced during New York Fashion Week in February. Robinson's critically acclaimed and inventive bohemian autumn-winter casuals included flared chinos and high-heeled crepe-soled desert boots conceived for Gap by Paris shoe designer Pierre Hardy.

      Opening Ceremony, the cutting-edge boutique operated in New York City and Los Angeles by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, sold affordable hip garb alongside avant-garde ready-to-wear. In one month the boutique sold 6,000 pairs of $60 skinny jeans by the Swedish brand Cheap Monday. Barneys New York followed the example of Opening Ceremony (which in 2007 had sold a capsule collection that Proenza Schouler produced for Target) and peddled the spring-summer line that New York City designer Rogan Gregory had created for Target. The collection, which was priced from $15 to $45 and featured wrap dresses and tank tops, sold 1,000 pieces within two hours when it debuted in May at the Madison Avenue Barneys in New York City.

      Just prior to the release of fashion blockbuster Sex and the City: The Movie, Sarah Jessica Parker appeared at a May film premiere in a strapless leaf-print Bitten sundress that had cost $8.98 at the “perpetually mobbed” sweeping Manhattan outlet of discount clothing chain Steve & Barry's. (Despite the firm's popularity, in July the retailer filed for bankruptcy, and it was subsequently rescued by investment firms Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management.) Sex and the City's costumer, Patricia Field, launched a 35-piece affordable women's fashion collection, including “disco dresses,” for British retailer Marks & Spencer. As the firm's executive chairman, Sir Stuart Rose, explained: “We all need a bit of fun right now—something to lift us out of the gloom.”

      Fashion's annual red-carpet season turned sombre when January's Golden Globe Awards were canceled. Because the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was on strike, its members refused to attend the event, which traditionally inaugurated Hollywood's series of fashion-rich winter award shows. Though the SAG awards ceremony and the Academy Awards show went ahead as scheduled, the dress code at both affairs was decidedly muted. Julie Christie wore a tuxedo as she accepted the SAG best-actress award, and Tilda Swinton clutched her Oscar in a black velvet floor-length Lanvin gown. The shortage of traditional celebrity glamour thrust a range of eccentrically clad personalities into the spotlight, including Amy Winehouse (Winehouse, Amy ), whose “sky high” beehive and black eye makeup adorned models who appeared in a London showing of Chanel's 2008 Métiers d'Art collection. Karl Lagerfeld, in summing up Chanel's expensive assortment of dark separates, christened the collection “sophisticated punk for the rich.”

      High-profile women in the political sphere became the most prominent fashion leaders. On her first official visit to England in March, Christian Dior-clad Carla Bruni-Sarkozy—the supermodel-turned-folk-singer wife of French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy—made international headlines. In the mid-1990s Bruni-Sarkozy appeared on 250 magazine covers, was a regular on top designers' runways, and starred in the advertising campaigns of Dior, Chanel, and Gianni Versace. Applying her style know-how to her new role, Bruni-Sarkozy acquired a newly demure image. She opted for chic flat shoes so as not to tower over her diminutive husband, and on their London visit her Christian Dior couture wardrobe featured items such as a pillbox hat reminiscent of the iconic Halston hat associated with U.S. first lady (1961–63) Jacqueline Kennedy. Bruni-Sarkozy, posing with ease next to her husband—as well as solo for Vanity Fair's prestigious September cover—substantially boosted his international profile. American Vogue observed, “She is the most sparkling embodiment of fashion's transformative power since Princess Diana.”

      The nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin (Palin, Sarah ) of Alaska as the Republican (GOP) vice presidential candidate set off a huge demand for her preferred style of rimless eyewear, which were custom-made and based on a style by Japanese industrial designer Kazuo Kawasaki. Orthodox Jewish women in New York City had their wigs styled to copy Palin's signature hairdo. Near the end of the campaign, however, a makeover of Governor Palin backfired when the story surfaced that the Palin family's $150,000 luxury shopping spree had been financed by the GOP.

      Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic President-elect Barack Obama (Obama, Barack ) , wore A-line dresses and a slick flipped hairstyle reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy's look. The clothing Obama wore on the campaign trail ranged from a Moschino floral shirtdress to a blue-and-white-plaid Gap sundress to perky J. Crew separates. Maria Pinto, the creator of many of Obama's campaign dresses (including the purple sleeveless shift she wore on the night her husband claimed the Democratic nomination), opened her first boutique in Chicago in August. The following month, during New York Fashion Week, ES Magazine reported that Thakoon Panichgul had become the “talk of the town” after Obama wore one of his designs—a black-and-red floral kimono dress—for the occasion of her husband's nomination speech.

      In June the industry mourned the passing of designer Yves Saint Laurent (Saint Laurent, Yves ), who modernized fashion by introducing trousers to the female wardrobe and by pioneering the concept of ready-to-wear. Other deaths include those of fashion designers Mila Schon (Schon, Mila ), who made her mark in Italy, and Riitta Immonen (Immonen, Riitta Narhi ) of Finland; costume designer Kermit Love (Love, Kermit Ernest Hollingshead ); models Katoucha Niane (Niane, Katoucha ) and Dorian Leigh (Leigh, Dorian ); and Hollywood tastemaker Mr. Blackwell .

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2008
Celebrity-endorsed fast fashion, eco-conscious clothing and accessories, couture for men, and huge handbags were some of fashion's hottest trends.  A recurrent theme in 2007 was “fast fashion”—that is, inexpensive mass-produced variations of current designer merchandise, described by Women's Wear Daily (WWD) as “adulterated versions of things that have preceded them.” In March actress Drew Barrymore appeared in advertisements promoting Gold, a 35-piece collection produced for international New Look stores by Giles Deacon, Britain's Designer of the Year. The affordable dresses, jeans, T-shirts, shoes, handbags, sunglasses, bangles, and earrings translated Deacon's dressed-up, glossy glamour into a more casual idiom. A month later Gap launched Gap Design Editions, a collection of inventive white shirts for women, created by cutting-edge American designers, including Doo-Ri Chung, Thakoon Panichgul, and Rodarte; in the autumn Gap premiered a limited-edition shoe collection that featured timely pointy-toed flats and high-heeled platform winter sandals by Pierre Hardy, the Paris designer famed for his unusual luxury footwear for Balenciaga. In November Roberto Cavalli lent his decadent, exotic touch to a collection of men's and women's party wear and women's lingerie for Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz; it was distributed in about 200 of H&M's 1,420 worldwide stores.

      Eclipsing the efforts of recognized designers, however, was fast fashion produced collaboratively by a lineup of female celebrities and anonymous design teams working for international retail chains. In late March, for example, H&M launched M by Madonna in 28 countries; the pop star's fans arrived at dawn to be the first purchasers of bargain-priced classics—leotards, fitted shirts, kimono dresses, jumpsuits, and leather trench coats—inspired by the performer's considerable personal style. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna's close friend, was “sent one of everything in the collection in every colour,” according to an H&M spokesperson.

      On April 30 huge crowds outside the London flagship store of Topshop, the British high-street fashion giant, witnessed supermodel Kate Moss's brief appearance in the display window, flaunting a red maxi dress, a standout item among Moss's 91-piece signature Topshop collection, which went on sale a day later. Moss received a $6 million paycheck for her effort, which proved an overnight success. “Items were being restocked by the minute,” WWD reported; merchandise reserved for the Topshop Web site sold out in hours. The May 8 debut of Moss's Topshop collection at Barneys New York provoked hysteria among consumers as they stampeded into the Manhattan store as soon as it opened. “Shoppers ripped clothes off mannequins, grabbed items from racks and out of the hands of sales associates, and even tore head shots of the model from displays,” added WWD. “At 10:30 most of the merchandise was gone.”

      Two Spanish retail giants backed successful autumn-winter fast-fashion debuts by celebrity siblings. Mango's 25-piece collection was inspired by the clothes worn by Penelope Cruz and her sister Monica. Carlos Ortega, owner of Pepe Jeans, bankrolled Twenty8Twelve, a line of casual clothing conceived by Sienna Miller and her sister Savannah. (The name was devised from Sienna's birthday, December 28.) To coincide with the launch, Twenty8Twelve opened an impressive retail flagship in London's hip Notting Hill. As evidence that the joint venture was not “just another celebrity fashion line,” Sienna cited the expertise of Savannah, a graduate of London's Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and a former employee of designer Alexander McQueen. Sienna also declared, “I'm not about to become a brand—I won't be releasing an album, perfume, and knickers next year.”

 Miller's comment was perhaps a veiled jab at Victoria Beckham, the wife of international association football (soccer) superstar David Beckham. The Beckham family moved from Madrid to Los Angeles, where in August David officially joined the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer. Victoria leveraged the global publicity by launching dVb, her own luxury brand; her collection was initially stocked by upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel. In February she introduced sunglasses modeled on the oversized styles once sported by Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; Victoria later introduced a line of expensive denim. Intimately Beckham, men's and women's fragrances launched by both Beckhams, followed in September. People magazine described Victoria's much-emulated blonde “razored bob” as the “hairstyle of the year.” Victoria also made a cameo appearance on an autumn episode of Ugly Betty, the hit TV comedy series based on the trials and tribulations of a perky idiosyncratically dressed Mexican American editorial assistant working in the office of a Manhattan-based high-fashion magazine. Not everyone was pleased with the celebrity-endorsed fast-fashion trend. Giorgio Armani labeled the craze “depressing because it plays with people's sense of inadequacy, treating customers as schmucks because they need the endorsement of a high-profile person to feel worthy.”

 The acquisition of masses of relatively inexpensive merchandise also ran counter to the awakened eco-consciousness within the fashion industry. Deriding wastefulness, this segment of the industry promoted “clean clothes,” those made from responsibly obtained natural fibres, such as bamboo, recycled cashmere, soy, and organic cotton; popular “eco-boutiques,” such as Avita Co-op in Los Angeles, raised the profile of these goods. “Swaparama” and “Feather Duster” clothes-swapping events—that is, meetings at which previously worn clothing was donated and traded—proved popular in London. In New York City hundreds of people lined up outside Whole Foods stores to purchase $15 eco-friendly canvas Anya Hindmarch totes appliquéd with the phrase “I'm not a plastic bag” and meant to function as a carryall for groceries.

  British fashion, once overshadowed by that produced in Paris and Milan, emerged as world-class. Cutting-edge and commercially viable collections were produced in 2007 by a new generation of British-trained designers, including 29-year-old Jonathan Saunders, who reported a 40% increase in sales of his sophisticated women's wear rendered from bold textiles he described as “engineered prints.” Four London-based designers—theatrical Gareth Pugh; Danielle Scutt, whose work displayed a '70s-inspired sex appeal; and Todd Lynn and Erdem Moralioglu, Canadians who purveyed chic rock-star androgyny and refined romantic femininity, respectively—were dubbed the “new school” by American Vogue, which praised their “very promising” spring-summer collections. Dalston (Eng.)-based Christopher Kane revived the '80s body-conscious minidress to spectacular effect: “Selling out worldwide,” noted ES Magazine of his creations. French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld wore a frilly Marie Antoinette-inspired custom-made Kane frock “at least five times,” including “in the front row of the Chanel Cruise show,” according to the designer.

      Singapore retail and hotel tycoon Christina Ong's interest in Luella Bartley allowed the Shoreditch (Eng.)-based designer and former British Vogue journalist—who described her signature as “English countryside-meets-London's avant-garde”—to open a 130-sq-m (about 1,400-sq-ft) boutique on Mayfair's Brook Street in September. Championing London's burgeoning fashion scene, New York Times fashion editor Cathy Horyn credited the British capital's booming economy and the shopping habits of extremely wealthy foreign visitors and new residents from Russia.

      The Oxford Street (London) flagship of British department store Selfridges proved innovative, launching in September the Wonder Room, a sweeping retail space promoted as a “cabinet of curiosities” and showcasing an opulent array of luxury accessories and fine jewelry alongside avant-garde furniture and glossy coffee-table books. British models—including the pixie-cropped, tall, lean Agyness Deyn and lithe redhead Lily Cole—were among the industry's most in-demand and were featured in major advertising campaigns. The lavish March nuptials of Indian businessman Arun Nayar and British actress-model-beachwear designer Elizabeth Hurley, who was gowned by Donatella Versace, made global headlines as designers such as Tom Ford and Valentino as well as celebrity Sir Elton John attended the two ceremonies, one at historic Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, Eng., and the other in Jodhpur, India. Cate Blanchett's starring role in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Shekhar Kapur's romantic sequel to Elizabeth (1998), was lauded for its impressive costumes by Alexandra Byrne. The splendorous court gowns Blanchett modeled on screen were inspired by costumes Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga had conceived for a 1941 Paris stage play; Christian Dior's milliner, Stephen Jones, created the movie's plumed hats and opulent headdresses. Chanel commemorated London's fashion moment by launching a limited edition of its classic quilted-leather handbag enlivened by a flashy Union Jack print.

      In May Tom Ford launched a novel fashion concept—the “ men's version of couture,” as Vogue's editor-at-large André Leon Talley described his made-to-measure finely crafted men's tailoring, sold from Ford's new three-story boutique on New York City's Madison Avenue, the first of many planned stores worldwide. The dimly lit '30s-inspired retail emporium featured rare artifacts, including a Lucio Fontana slashed stainless-steel work, Jean Arp sculpture, and fitting-room fixtures made at the foundry used by Swiss artist Diego Giacometti. Critical reaction was mixed, and some observers considered the venture too pretentious. “Haughty couture,” sniped the Village Voice, citing the four- and five-figure price tags of Ford's line, much of which was displayed behind glass.

      A new Brooks Brothers line called Black Fleece was well received. This expensive classically styled clothing meant for professional men and women was produced by New York designer Thom Browne for Brooks Brothers. Browne, the 2006 Council of Fashion Designers of America Menswear Designer of the Year, cut his teeth at the retail chain Club Monaco before launching his eponymous label of slim-cut suits sold from his boutique in New York City's Tribeca neighbourhood. Introducing Black Fleece in March, Browne, presented as Brooks Brothers “guest designer,” staged an intimate show of autumn-winter clothes and accessories inspired by preppy pieces he unearthed in the label's archive; the show included the revival of a vintage necktie pattern, oxford cloth shirts, and late-'40s- and '50s-inspired men's suits. By September Black Fleece had been made available in more than 40 Brooks Brothers stores worldwide, confirming that Browne had succeeded in launching a look that would help modernize the venerable American label.

 In September the Roman fashion house Valentino announced that its founders, 75-year-old designer in chief Valentino Garavani and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, would retire. The announcement followed July's lavish 45th anniversary celebration and commemorative fashion exhibition in Rome. Valentino rose to fame in the '60s as the couturier of choice to a legion of jet-setting celebrities, socialites, and royalty: actress Elizabeth Taylor, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy (later Onassis), socialite Babe Paley, and Princess Grace of Monaco, among others. His contemporary femininity, identifiable by sartorial signatures such as the colour lipstick red, characteristic patterns, and lush lacey textiles remained favoured by Paltrow, Elle Macpherson, Hurley, and Anne Hathaway, who demurely modeled a black-and-white strapless Valentino frock at the 79th Academy Awards. In July the Valentino Fashion Group acquired a 45% stake in the New York City ready-to-wear label Proenza Schouler, but that firm's leaders, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, were not brought into management at Valentino. Instead, 35-year-old Alessandra Facchinetti, a former designer for Gamme Rouge (an expensive line of striking sporty-elegant down winter jackets produced by the upscale French outerwear label Moncler), was appointed to succeed Valentino as creative director of women's wear. Facchinetti had also served for a year (2004–05) as Gucci's head of women's wear.

      Several major figures were lost to the fashion world in 2007. Isabella Blow (Blow, Isabella ), the infamous former style director of British society magazine Tatler, committed suicide; her former boss at Vogue, Anna Wintour (Wintour, Anna ), spoke at her memorial service. In June a legion of Milan fashion titans—including designers Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, Valentino, and Krizia's Mariuccia Mandelli—gathered at Basilica di San Magno in Legnano, Italy, to mourn the passing of designer Gianfranco Ferré (Ferre, Gianfranco ). The death of retired designer and businesswoman Liz Claiborne (Claiborne, Liz ) was marked quietly, but her legacy in American retail remained substantial.

 On July 2 Christian Dior's spectacular 60th anniversary autumn-winter couture show—a tribute to legendary painters, illustrators, and photographers—was staged at Versailles. The show was dedicated to Steven Robinson, head of Christian Dior and John Galliano design studios, who died in Paris on April 4.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2007
Emaciated actresses and models and the “size-zero debate” captured fashion headlines, and model Kate Moss, who had entered drug rehab at the end of 2005, made an astonishing comeback during 2006.   Pale shades such as gray and nude pink proved fashionable, and red became a perky antidote to black in 2006. Tartan made a comeback for autumn—spearheaded in May by actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who modeled an off-the-shoulder Alexander McQueen tartan evening dress at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute gala in New York City. Patent as well as metallic leathers were polished additions to luxury footwear. The critical hits of the year included an affordable capsule spring-summer collection of flirty blouses and dresses by textile designer Celia Birtwell, widow of British designer Ossie Clark, produced for the high-street megachain Topshop; a tunic-and-narrow-trousers ensemble produced for autumn-winter in charcoal flannel by Yves Saint Laurent's designer in chief Stefano Pilati; and a Burberry fox-fur-trimmed trench coat. Nicolas Ghesquière's autumn-winter collection for Balenciaga proved the tour de force of the international collections. “Short, molded checked tweed suits with stand away collars, rounded coats and mind-blowingly wrought evening dresses radiated a powerful modernity,” wrote American Vogue's contributing editor Sarah Mower soon after the collection debuted. “Ghesquière pushed his design to a place no one else has reached.”

      It was size, however—more than any trend—that preoccupied the fashion industry. The “size-zero debate”—based on the theory that painfully thin modern fashion icons were having a dangerous influence on admiring young women, some of whom were becoming vulnerable to anorexia nervosa—raged as emaciated young actresses and fashion models appeared in increasing numbers in the tabloid press. Singled out for criticism was Rachel Zoe—an influential Los Angeles stylist who groomed young, lean, and newly chic superstars Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Keira Knightly, and Mischa Barton. Zoe's flair extended to launching numerous 2006 fashion trends, including skinny jeans, vintage tops, headbands, oversized sunglasses, and big bags. The Los Angeles Times, however, blamed her for “single-handedly bringing anorexia back.” Reed-slim Zoe refuted the allegation that she affected the eating habits of her clients, telling London's The Sunday Times, “I don't think it is fair to say that I'm responsible because I'm a thin person, that because I'm influencing their style I'm influencing what they eat.”

      “Size zero” became front-page news in September when model Luisel Ramos collapsed on a runway during Uruguay's Fashion Week moments after being applauded by spectators; she later died from heart failure. News emerged that she had fasted to lose weight as she readied for the show. As a result, coordinators of Madrid's Fashion Week soon banned from the event models whose body mass index (BMI, a measurement of body fat according to weight and height) fell below 18, which was considered unhealthy. The International Herald Tribune noted that many top models had a BMI that was in the 14–16 range. Before the start of mid-September's London's Fashion Week, the Madrid ban prompted British designers Sir Paul Smith and Allegra Hicks, as well as members of Parliament, including Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, and health experts, to speak out against “size-zero girls.” Hilary Riva, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, canceled the photo call that traditionally opened London's Fashion Week. Just prior to Milan's Fashion Week, Tiziano Maiolo, the city councillor responsible for fashion, claimed that there were “too many skeletons on the runways,” while Mayor Letizia Moratti urged Italian designers to cast healthy-looking models in their runway shows. Following the death in November of model Ana Carolina Reston from complications of anorexia (she reportedly weighted about 40 kg [88 lb] at the time), American and Italian fashion councils launched a review of their guidelines. In late December the Italian fashion industry issued a manifesto that required models to submit medical documents that verified their health before they could be hired. In addition, the hiring of models under the age of 16 was prohibited. A solution to the size-zero debate remained elusive.

      Model Kate Moss—another controversial fashion industry figure—waged a spectacular career comeback. Though Moss had been immediately fired by Swedish retail chain H&M after 2005's “Cocaine Kate” drug scandal—sparked by the London Daily Mirror newspaper's photographic display of her snorting a line of cocaine through a five-pound note—by autumn 2006 she was fronting 14 advertising campaigns for sought-after luxury brands, including Burberry, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Roberto Cavalli. Moss's annual salary was estimated to have nearly tripled—from £11 million to £30 million (£1 = about $1.85). Her ubiquity in the press and at an array of social events suggested that a massive public-relations offensive was under way to rehabilitate her battered image. Nevertheless, the fashion world championed her as an “enduring icon,” while newspapers obsessively chronicled her trendsetting power. Moss appeared on the prestigious September covers of Vanity Fair—the first edition on which the magazine's new fashion and style director, Michael Roberts, had worked—and British Vogue. It was also announced that she would design a line of clothing for Topshop.

      British GQ singled out Moss's rock star boyfriend, Pete Doherty, on its best-dressed list, commending as influential his habitual style, which involved three elements—a porkpie hat, a slim-fit suit, and a skinny tie. The Giorgio Armani-clad British actor Clive Owen topped GQ's list—one of several such registers published in many glossy magazines—and in May Lancôme, the French cosmetics line owned by L'Oreal, announced that Owen, 41, would front advertising campaigns promoting its men's grooming products. Lancôme also appointed Canadian supermodel Daria Werbowy to be the newest “face” of its cosmetics line and Hypnôse fragrance. The 67th International Best- Dressed List published by Vanity Fair included U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, owing to her penchant for wearing pearls and subtle Armani suits.

      Menswear designer Thom Browne experienced continued success peddling a sophisticated $3,600 “snug-fit” bespoke suit from his studio in New York City's meat-packing district. “Men Only”—Paul Smith's autumn-winter women's wear collection based on gentlemen's tailoring—was one of many influenced by the modern unisex look pioneered by Hedi Slimane, Dior Homme's shrewd designer. For Dior Homme's autumn-winter collection, Slimane included gender-bending vertiginous boots, with 5.71-cm (2.25-in) heels. Belgian designer Veronique Branquinho produced for the Italian label Complice a “partner look,” based on similar staples for men and women, including tailored trousers and trench coats. The French footwear line Repetto revealed that men accounted for 7% of the sales of its popular ballet slipper—the shoe model that along with the chunky platform and thick-soled wedge proved popular for women.

      Footwear standouts on the international fashion runways included two futuristic styles of summer leather sandals—a pair adorned with mirror heels and another featuring heels made of metal and embellished with polished stones. The talented French footwear designer Pierre Hardy produced them for Balenciaga. Rupert Sanderson, the Mayfair, London-based footwear designer known for his sophisticated modern reinterpretations of classic shoes, achieved a huge degree of popularity and was dubbed the “new Manolo” [Blahnik] by the style press. Ferragamo introduced for autumn the Greta Garbo Ostrich Shoe, a light brown lace-up ankle-shoe boot featuring a rounded toe, which the late Salvatore Ferragamo had originally designed for the 1930s MGM movie queen. An array of “ugly shoes” proved to be summer street-wear favourites. They included the unisex Croc—a lightweight rubberized clog with an adjustable heel strap that was made from proprietary closed-cell resin, an oil by-product—the orthopedic-like Wörishofer clog, and the athletic Kisumu sandal, designed to increase its wearer's muscle activity.

      “Balenciaga Paris,” a retrospective fashion exhibition staged (July 6, 2006–Jan. 28, 2007) at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris, celebrated the enduring appeal of the venerated avant-garde fashion house. The exhibit featured 147 ensembles produced over a 50-year period by its late Spanish founder, Cristobal Balenciaga, and an additional 23 creations designed by Ghesquière during his nine years at the helm. In September Bloomsbury published The Beautiful Fall, Alicia Drake's comprehensive account of the 1970s Paris fashion scene. It focused on the rivalry between that era's two key players— Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. The October release of Donald Spoto's biography Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn resurrected its subject as a style icon 13 years after her death; Gap featured Hepburn in a television advertising campaign that promoted its skinny black pants. “Audrey Hepburn represents a kind of elegance that may be especially appreciated in an era of torn jeans,” commented Spoto. “Her combination of modesty and simplicity are a wonderful corrective in these times of vulgar and empty celebrity.”

       Meryl Streep delivered an impressive performance as Miranda Priestly, a fashion magazine editor inspired by Vogue's Anna Wintour in the hit screen adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada. In July Odile Gilbert—famed for having created the towering 17th-century-inspired hairdos for Kirsten Dunst's title character role in Sofia Coppola's biopic Marie Antoinette as well as theatrical looks for the runway shows produced by Chanel's Lagerfeld, Christian Dior's John Galliano, and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others—became the first hairstylist to receive the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake (Miyake, Issey ) (see Biographies), winner of a 2005 Praemium Imperiale, added a 2006 Kyoto Prize for lifetime achievement to his list of honours.

 A new wave of talented designers achieved industry recognition. Giambattista Valli, the former ready-to-wear director of Emanuel Ungaro, had his own-name line picked up by upscale American department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York. Based on a romantic sophistication inspired by Italian style legends Marella Agnelli and Monica Vitti, the collection's standout numbers were flattering, voluminous strapless cocktail dresses. While French Vogue championed Ungaro's new designer, Peter Dundas, who worked behind the scenes at Roberto Cavalli, American Vogue labeled as “girl of the moment” Georgina Chapman, who with Keren Craig made up the design duo behind Marchesa—a line of red-carpet couture favoured by an array of Hollywood beauties, including Penelope Cruz and Cate Blanchett. The Guardian newspaper attributed Marchesa's popularity among celebrities to the influence of Chapman's boyfriend— Harvey Weinstein, the film-industry tycoon and former cochairman of the film-production company Miramax. The talk of July was the Paris presentation, staged off the official haute couture schedule, of Rodarte, a painstakingly crafted retro-chic ready-to-wear line produced by Kate and Laura Mulleavy, twentysomething siblings from Pasadena, Calif. Lucy Sykes Rellie—the sister of best-selling British novelist Plum Sykes—launched Lucy Sykes Woman, a New York line of up-market casuals and an offshoot of the “classic luxurious” Lucy Sykes Baby children's wear.

 Heightening the demand for deluxe accessories was an array of expensive, opulent handbags—or “it bags”—produced by every major fashion brand; they included the feminine boxy Robert by Marc Jacobs, the half-circle Muse by Yves Saint Laurent, and a brown leather Dior shoulder bag called the Gaucho. Spring witnessed the debut of Tom Ford Eyewear—the range of oversized sunglasses produced by the former Gucci designer—and the relaunch of Modern Creation Munich—the pricey German leather-goods line bearing the MCM logo; it was overseen by Michael Michalsky, the savvy executive who had served 10 years as the global creative director of Adidas.

      From late August, H&M sold a sleek tracksuit produced in collaboration with Madonna. The pop star sealed her reputation as the music industry's reigning style force by displaying through her summer 2006 Confessions concert tour cutting-edge theatrical stage ensembles jointly produced by her personal stylist, the costume designer Arianne Phillips, and her preferred couturier, Jean Paul Gaultier.

  Steven Meisel continued to demonstrate his unrivaled ability to translate hot-button issues into striking fashion photography with the publication in the September issue of Italian Vogue of “State of Emergency”—a lengthy photo-essay inspired by symptoms of the ongoing war on terrorism. The piece depicted invasive airport security checks as well as the notorious images that captured the torture and abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. “The photographs endorse the very taboos they violate,” wrote academic Joanna Bourke, criticizing Meisel's juxtaposition of fashion and tragic crisis situations. In July, Kabul hosted what was referred to as Afghanistan's first fashion show in years. Meanwhile, at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Mosque, an innovative blue chador—featuring new functional sleeves—debuted at Iran's first-ever Islamic dress fair.

      In September, Paolo Melin Anderson departed from his Marni senior designer position to become designer in chief at Chloé, replacing British designer Phoebe Philo, who had resigned in January. Simon Fuller, the British music mogul and creator of the American Idol television program, announced his principal investment in 19 RM, a fashion venture involving the French designer Roland Mouret, who in October 2005 had quit his eponymous label owing to a creative fallout with his financial backers. After the surprise sacking of Olivier Theyskens from his post as designer of the French label Rochas, the 25-year-old Belgian—a darling of the fashion press—was named creative director of Nina Ricci in September after Swede Lars Nilsson quit in late August. It was rumoured that Nilsson might join Oscar de la Renta.

      The fashion world mourned the deaths during the year of French-born American designer Oleg Cassini (Cassini, Oleg ) (see Obituaries), American model Dorothea Towles Church (Church, Dorothea Towles ) (see Obituaries), and American shoe designer Beth Levine, who, as a megaforce in fashion footwear during the 1970s in New York City, created footwear for Halston and Bill Blass, boots for singer Nancy Sinatra, and shoes for songstress Liza Minnelli.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2006
The colour white cheered the fashion scene amid the troubling times of 2005, and celebrities once again stole the spotlight with new clothing lines and exposés written about them; peasant skirts and ruffled blouses crammed the runways, while luxury brands continued to enjoy robust sales.
      As the war in Iraq raged, the threat of terrorist bombings escalated, and hurricane devastation gripped the U.S. in 2005, the fashion industry delivered its antidote to the troubled times—clothes and accessories that were defined by bold, cheerful colours, whimsical shapes, and romantic patterns. After New York designer Narciso Rodriguez displayed bright white empire-line day and evening dresses on his spring-summer runway, the positive pallid shade defined the year's colour palette. The Gap's summer line of white denim became hugely popular, and Tod's and Valextra, Italian makers of expensive handbags, produced stylish models from ashen crocodile. Designers Diane von Furstenberg and Kenneth Cole offered fitted white tank tops as an alternative to blouses. Christian Dior's John Galliano displayed Op art-inspired black-and-white mini sweaterdresses on his autumn-winter runway. Helmut Lang revived classic pearls, displaying them as oversize rope necklaces, at his spring-summer show. In January Lang left his New York fashion house after a 15-year tenure as an arbiter; he had gradually sold off his brand to the Prada Group, which experienced financial woes while trying to revive the brand. In October London-based designer Roland Mouret resigned from his thriving eponymous fashion label. Sharai Meyers, the creative director and financial backer of Roland Mouret, told the New York Times, “We have very different views of how the collection should evolve and grow.”

      Lang's departure heralded a change of the guard within the fashion industry. In February newcomer Riccardo Tisci was appointed creative director of Givenchy; Bruno Frisoni, the new design director of Roger Vivier, the mid-century influential French shoe-design label, successfully relaunched the line in spring; and avant-garde Belgian designer Raf Simons was elevated by Prada in July to helm its moribund Jil Sander ready-to-wear label. Three months later Matthew Williamson succeeded Paris couturier Christian Lacroix as the creative force behind Pucci. Alber Elbaz, the 43-year-old Israeli designer of venerable French dress label Lanvin, was regarded as fashion's most influential aesthetic force owing to his continued ability to produce coveted feminine cocktail dresses and decorative accessories that were instantly copied by others, notably his silk-ribbon jeweled choker. Lanvin's opulent loft apartment-like Paris flagship store became a retail destination where high-profile personalities—notably actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Kirsten Dunst, and Nicole Kidman; film director Sofia Coppola; and fashion designer Vera Wang—could be spotted shopping. In June Wang was named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). In November Tom Ford introduced a pricey cosmetics line and a perfume, Youth Dew Amber Nude, marketed by Estée Lauder. Meanwhile, Liya Kebede, American Vogue cover girl and Ethiopian fashion model, was appointed the World Health Organization's goodwill ambassador for maternal, newborn, and child health. Supermodel Tyra Banks (Banks, Tyra ) (see Biographies), host of the popular UPN reality program America's Next Top Model, debuted in September The Tyra Banks Show, a talk show.

      The first spring-summer collection produced by Stefano Pilati—Ford's successor as designer in chief of YSL Rive Gauche, Yves Saint Laurent's ready-to-wear line—led fashion's new direction. Pilati's saucy ruffled YSL minidress was previewed on the February cover of Paris Vogue, while American Vogue showcased YSL's violet suede stacked-heel loafers and thigh-grazing bell-shaped “tulip bubble” skirts rendered in canary yellow and perky white polka dots. Giles Deacon, the designer of the eponymous London women's luxury fashion label, shared Pilati's voluminous sartorial preference, producing a knee-skimming variation of the tulip skirt. Rigorously tailored knee-hovering poufs were introduced for autumn as well. Marc Jacobs produced an ankle-length “balloon,” Balenciaga introduced the “bubble,” and Oscar de la Renta's “carnation” featured festooned pleats.

      Floral prints proved another yearlong women's fashion trend. In January Gucci introduced Flora—a range of handbags, shoes, and watches that featured zingy Mediterranean wildflowers. Jacobs displayed his spring-summer collection at Pier 54, transforming the otherwise cold lower-Manhattan location into a bucolic paradise where models parading down the runway in his feminine clothes passed beneath an archway adorned with 500,000 pink and white roses. For Louis Vuitton's ready-to-wear collection, Jacobs introduced flirty summer dresses, featuring 1940s-inspired floral prints. Leather rosettes topped flats produced in autumn for his eponymous shoe line, while handmade silk buds decorated a peplumed jacket that Giorgio Armani displayed at his second showing of Privé, his new couture line. English garden blossoms covered classic trench coats and handbags at the spring-summer Burberry Prorsum line. Feathers were a spring-summer alternative to flowers, with Milan design duo Dolce & Gabbana producing a skirt from fluffy peacock plumes, and a quill-print dress proved a coveted item of Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada's diffusion line. For men the answer to the feminine blossom was paisley, which was featured on spring neckties, while hot pink proved the masculine alternative to bright yellow, a popular shade for women's wear. Purple came on strong for both men's and women's wear.

      In urban capitals women embraced fashion's upbeat direction by taking to the streets in summer in romantic peasant skirts. Numerous design labels, from Etro to Alberta Ferretti and Dries Van Noten, displayed such “gypsy” skirts, topping the ankle-length floaty silhouette with billowy ruffled blouses. Popular variations of high fashion's gypsy skirts were produced by Club Monaco and Old Navy. The fashionable sought brightly coloured 1970s-inspired beads as well as ethnic-inspired caftans, such as those produced by French retailer BCBG Max Azria and Tory by TRB, a mid-priced resort-inspired sportswear line designed by New York socialite Tory Burch. At OG2, a women's fashion boutique on London's Portobello Road, Nigerian owner Duro Olowu reported selling 1,000 of his $900 knee-length kimono-caftan creations, which he designed from bright vintage silk.

      Baggy trousers—which Harper's Bazaar magazine deemed “de rigueur”—proved functional amid the summer's heat wave. More popular, however, were women's walking shorts. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, photographed on a London street wearing knee-length shorts with frilly ankle-tied high-heeled espadrilles, displayed a gradual move toward a more polished, feminine spin on comfort dressing. A high-low mix of casual and expensive dressy items became trendsetting fashion. American Vogue's August issue promoted a relaxed chic look that combined a Marni fur capelet with a pair of $500 Chloé jeans.

 Celebrities remained powerful fashion marketing tools. Uma Thurman successfully promoted Louis Vuitton, while Madonna and Demi Moore appeared in advertisements for Versace. Celebrity fashion labels proliferated; British actress Elizabeth Hurley produced an eponymous resort collection, and pop star Justin Timberlake sold his William Rast 60-piece collection of men's and women's casuals at Bloomingdale's. Other celebrity labels were launched by Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Jessica Simpson, and Paula Abdul, who premiered her Skirtz clothing line. Sarah Jessica Parker launched Lovely, a signature fragrance in a pink egg-shaped bottle, and Ali and Paul Hewson collaborated with Manhattan denim designer Rogan Gregory (Gregory, Rogan ) (see Biographies) in the launch of Edun, a casual sportswear line. W magazine reported sales of nearly double the 75,000 copies sold at newsstands of its July issue, which featured a 58-page Steven Klein fashion shoot in which the Hollywood love match Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie romped as suburban parents of five children. Photographer Steven Meisel used Italian Vogue as the forum for the public's fascination with celebrity fashion. The magazine's January issue featured Meisel's “Hollywood Style” story, inspired by the glossy tabloid Star, in which his Vogue models were sloppily dressed to resemble stars such as Simpson and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen caught unawares by the paparazzi. In July Italian Vogue published “Makeover Madness,” a controversial 80-page Meisel portfolio that portrayed supermodel Linda Evangelista and other models portraying plastic-surgery patients. Meisel described his images as a “reaction to where entertainment is right now—everything is makeovers and plastic surgery, altering oneself at any cost.”

       Retail sales figures appeared both buoyant and bumpy during the year. Two days after the July 7 terrorist bombings in London's public transport network, Women's Wear Daily magazine noted brisk business on Bond Street, the city's luxury-goods retail thoroughfare. After the second wave of London attacks two weeks later, retail consultancy SPSL reported a 26.9% decline in the number of shoppers on that day compared with 2004. The retail consequences of Hurricane Katrina, which battered the U.S. Gulf Coast, were catastrophic. Gap Inc. reported shuttering 70 stores in affected areas in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Saks Inc. closed its Saks Fifth Avenue New Orleans branch, and it was reported in September that some of the city's major retail chains, such as Macy's and Coach, would remain shut down for weeks or perhaps months. Though the mid-September onset of Hurricane Rita to the same blighted area sent the U.S. Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index plunging 18.9 points—its lowest level since October 2003— the bullish stock market helped buoy sales in luxury markets. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, owner of fashion labels Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Dior, revealed a promising 19% rise in net profit in the first half of the year. PPR, proprietor of avant-garde fashion names, including Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, and Alexander McQueen, reported a healthy 12.5% gain in net profits during the first six months of the year but also divulged that retail sales were weak, owing to a tepid European economic climate.

 Premium accessories—designer shoes, must-have handbags, and expensive watches—were the deluxe items purchased by high-spending consumers. A group of specialty boutique retailers surveyed by Women's Wear Daily reported a year-on-year 30% increase in September sales. Such hip independent outposts as Kitson on South Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles were the new zones where young men and women shopped for fashion ephemera, such as designer jeans, collectors item T-shirts, bright cashmeres, and fun fur, as well as essential autumn seasonal accessories such as modish newsboy caps and knee-high boots in leather or suede. Geox, a line of functional Italian footwear with a “breathable” flexible perforated sole that staved off perspiration, opened its first freestanding American store in March on New York City's 57th Street and announced sales of more than nine million pairs of shoes in 68 countries. For men GQ magazine deemed the loafer “versatile” footwear. Both men and women continued to sport the “Live Strong” yellow wristbands—> that were launched in 2004 as a cancer fund-raising initiative by cyclist Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion.

      Starkly contrasting fashion's positive direction was a September front-page photo story published by Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper, which reproduced images from video footage that captured 31-year-old supermodel Kate Moss snorting cocaine in a London music studio. In June the CFDA had awarded Moss its Award for Fashion Influence, an accolade based on her continued success as a designer fashion muse. Days after the news of Moss's Class A illicit-drug use was circulated, the plan was halted for her to appear in an advertising campaign to promote a McCartney collection of affordable fashion set to launch worldwide on November 10 at 400 outlets of the popular Swedish retail chain H&M. After Rio de Janeiro-based jeweler H. Stern, Burberry, and Chanel also terminated relationships with Moss, she checked into a rehabilitation clinic near Phoenix.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2005

      After several years of the sartorial opulence that led up to and followed the turn of the new millennium, fashion in 2004 shifted away from overt luxury toward more practical dressing, and the change seemed to be a direct response to the uncertain times—the war in Iraq, skyrocketing oil prices, and a slew of hurricanes—that were dampening retail sales.

      The Gucci Group made fashion-industry headlines. Opulent long dresses of electric blue and emerald green adorned with smoke gray sequins dominated Gucci's autumn-winter collection—produced for the year's most anticipated runway presentation—the final offering created by Tom Ford, the company's charismatic 42-year-old creative director. In November 2003 Ford had announced that he would resign as creative director of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) Rive Gauche and that his boss, Domenico De Sole, Gucci president and CEO, would also leave; the two had failed to renegotiate their contracts with the company's French owner, luxury-goods conglomerate Pinault Printemps-Redoute. Ford's last collection for YSL's ready-to-wear line, Rive Gauche—for which Ford had assumed design control in 1999—was composed of rich jewel-toned satins. Both collections, however, seemed best suited to the lifestyle of top Hollywood actresses, such as Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, and Charlize Theron. (See Biographies (Theron, Charlize ).) When his tenure at Gucci ended, Ford decamped to Los Angeles, where he pursued his dream of writing and directing a feature film. Tom Ford, a coffee-table tribute tome—complete with contributions from Anna Wintour and Graydon Carter, the editors of Vogue and Vanity Fair, respectively—was published by Rizzoli International Publications. At Gucci former senior design directors Alessandra Facchinetti, John Ray, and Frida Giannini assumed Ford's previous responsibilities as creative directors of women's wear, menswear, and accessories, respectively. Promoted to Ford's position as YSL Rive Gauche creative director was Stefano Pilati, a 38-year-old Milanese designer, who had served as design director of the brand for four years. Previously Pilati had a two-year stint designing Prada's Miu Miu collection.

      Despite the plethora of satin, sequins, gold, leather, marabou, and fur seen at Gucci and most other autumn-winter fashion runways, practical clothes seemed most sought after by women. Denim jeans manufactured by a number of American cult labels—such as Juicy, Seven for All Mankind, Rogan, Hudson, Habitual, and Paper Denim & Cloth—emerged as the year's most coveted wardrobe item. British fashion designer Matthew Williamson produced a high-priced line of jeans for Levi, and the waist-hugging denim trousers and skirts Phoebe Philo designed for Chloé were favoured by fashion critics. In the Gap's popular “How Do You Wear It?” instructional autumn-winter advertising campaign, Sarah Jessica Parker—who in June received the Fashion Icon award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America—displayed the versatility of the label's affordable denim trousers produced in traditional styles and a more directional cropped look inspired by those created by Costume National, Valentino, and Burberry. In American Vogue's April issue, Kate Moss was called the “girl of the moment” and pictured in jeans, black-leather knee-high boots, and vintage fur. In the London magazine ES Fashion, elegant jewelry designer Nathalie Hambro claimed jeans to be her most reliable wardrobe element. “Jeans of different lengths, colours, and styles [are] a basic for dressing high or dressing low,” she said.

      Stilettos emerged as key accessories in high-fashion spring-summer collections—notably Michael Kors's Perspex and black-leather open-toe sandals and Gucci's strappy silk-ribbon evening shoes. In addition, less-expensive ballet slippers proved to be overwhelmingly popular, especially those produced by Louis Vuitton and Carolina Herrera. London's leading high-street chain, TOPSHOP, sold out of gold and silver ballet flats in summer. Meanwhile, writer, director, and Marc Jacobs muse Sofia Coppola—nominated by Vanity Fair as one of the best-dressed women of 2004 and winner of the Academy Award for best original screenplay for Lost in Translation—crossed the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards in January in black Marc Jacobs ballet slippers.

      High-fashion magazines promoted lavish accessories, such as Louis Vuitton's gold leather-trimmed $4,000 Trianon handbag and a Bottega Veneta “knot” bag—a clutch made from expensive material such as crocodile, python, and crystal. According to Vogue's September issue, precious jewelry replaced handbags as the key accessory to own. New jewelry collections abounded, and Liz Goldwyn—the 26-year-old granddaughter of 1930s Hollywood film mogul Sam Goldwyn—launched her own line. Diane von Furstenberg and Rio de Janeiro fine jeweler H. Stern introduced a collection in October called Diane von Furstenberg by H. Stern; the 18-karat-gold 50-piece collection displayed semiprecious stones, precious stones, and pavé diamonds.

      A number of fashion designers cornered the affordable-fashion sector. With the intention of reaching a larger customer base, Oscar de la Renta, the former couturier of Balmain, launched O Oscar, a line of reasonably priced clothes based on his ready-to-wear designs. “It's the well rounded wardrobe,” explained Tommy Hilfiger of H, his collection composed of $250 blazers and $150 pants, sold at Macy's and Bloomingdale's. “It can be worn by someone like Iman who is chic and refined or a mom who picks up her children at school and then meets her husband for dinner at a nice restaurant.” In the spring Karl Lagerfeld produced Cinq à Sept, a luxurious evening-wear line produced by Chanel in association with five couture adornment specialists the company had acquired in 2002, including an embroidery house (Lesage) and a custom shoemaker (Massaro); Lagerfeld also collaborated with the high-street chain H&M and produced a capsule collection of autumn-winter street fashion.

      Harper's Bazaar used the words staples and easy pieces to describe the style of reliable, timeless clothes popular among women, including trench coats produced in variations by Burberry, Donna Karan, and Derek Lam; versatile knitwear separates; and tank tops and conservative skirt suits inspired by the boxy cut pioneered by Coco Chanel and adapted by a cross section of designers that included young labels such as Proenza Schouler and Luella Bartley as well as established names such as Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.

      During 2004 Prada produced what the press considered to be two of the year's most directional shows—for summer the style was a 1950s-inspired look based on a seaside theme with wraparound skirts featuring Mediterranean designs and ombre cardigans, and the winter look featured jewel-embellished satin coats and skirts. On July 16 Miuccia Prada arrived in Los Angeles to open Prada's first Epicenter, a $35 million high-tech retail space that was designed by Dutch architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. At 2,230 sq m (24,000 sq ft), the store was the largest designer shop on Rodeo Drive, the retail mecca of Beverly Hills. Though Prada announced a 33% increase in profits and remained intent on floating the company on the stock market, European Business magazine claimed that the company's earnings were inflated and that Prada was operating on a margin of 2.7%. In November Prada and German fashion designer Jil Sander parted ways for a second time. Sander had sold her label to Prada in 1999 and then served as chair before stepping down in 2000, apparently after disagreements with Prada's chief executive, Patrizio Bertelli. In May 2003 Sander returned to Prada in an effort to resurrect her minimalist concept. By mid-2004, however, the brand had lost $22 million, following a net loss of $36.7 million in 2003, and Prada failed to renew Sander's contract. Armani, on the other hand, was operating on a 20% margin, and the company opened a Shanghai boutique and announced plans for an additional 30 shops in China by 2008. Hermès, which for autumn-winter 2004 successfully relaunched its ready-to-wear men's and women's fashion labels with Jean-Paul Gaultier as design director, had a 27% operating margin, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton posted a 32% margin.

      Economic analysts—assessing Donatella Versace's decision to go public on July 29 with the news that she had checked into a rehabilitation centre to seek treatment for cocaine addiction—claimed that the announcement would not harm the pursuit by investment banks Crédit Suisse First Boston and Lazard to sell a minority stake in the Milan fashion empire to an outside investor, given the brand image. Italian designer Roberto Cavalli emerged as the favourite among women who would otherwise wear Versace—notably celebrities Beyoncé (see Biographies (Beyonce )), Jennifer Lopez, and Lucy Liu. Cavalli produced feather- and crystal-encrusted evening dresses reminiscent of those made for Cher in the 1970s by Hollywood costume designer Bob Mackie. Cavalli classified his opulent look as “especially sexy,” but he also worried that sometimes it would be “too much.” His designs were also embraced by socialites such as Jade Jagger, Elle Macpherson, and Vanity Fair magazine fashion director Elizabeth Saltzman, who were all photographed wearing Cavalli gowns at the annual June Serpentine Gallery party, London's premiere summer social event.

      Another standout was French vintage evening wear produced in Paris by the late Tunisian-born designer Loris Azzaro; during the 1970s he dressed actresses Marisa Berenson, Liza Minnelli, and Raquel Welch in long, sinuous jersey and satin gowns frequently embellished at the neckline with sequins or crystals. At the 76th Academy Awards ceremony, actress Diane Lane appeared in a long white crystal-studded vintage Azzaro gown, and her profile enhanced the launch of a 35-piece collection produced by Vanessa Seward, the company's new Argentine designer, who had previously worked for Chanel and YSL Rive Gauche.

      Fashion's focus on celebrity dressing dimmed as 2004 drew to a close. Some celebrities seemed weary of the media's preoccupation with their images rather than with their talent. On a Vogue magazine photo shoot, actress Kirsten Dunst refused to be overtly styled or to wear a Prada dress proposed by a fashion editor. “I'm a young girl; I don't wear gowns. I want to look as much like myself as I can,” she said. Though fashion magazines featured celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, and Scarlett Johansson on their covers through most of the year, Wintour claimed that reality TV had cheapened fame's currency. Instead of placing an actress on the front cover of the magazine's most important issue (September), Wintour featured nine fashion models. Inside the magazine was a cross section of 20 working women, including an attorney, a real-estate broker, a grade-school teacher, and a violinist who selected clothes from the autumn-winter runways and explained how they merged with their lifestyles. “I think we're already fed up with the pseudo fashion parades that take place at countless award shows and premieres,” Wintour claimed in her editor's letter in the September Vogue, which totaled 832 pages and was its largest edition ever produced.

      Fashion designers looked beyond Hollywood for inspiration. The muse for the Jacobs autumn-winter collection and advertising campaign was New York sculptor Rachel Feinstein, famed for her experimental work, her mostly vintage wardrobe, and the portraits painted by her husband, John Currin. On the championship tennis circuit, Serena Williams attracted attention in the experimental corseted, flounced, fringed, and tasseled tennis dresses she produced in collaboration with Nike, her sponsor. Upon the invitation of the choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou, creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the Greek London-based designer Sofia Kokosalaki dressed the 8,000 dancers and performers who appeared. British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (see Biographies (Westwood, Vivienne )) had a huge retrospective of her work at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Indian actress Aishwarya Rai (see Biographies (Rai, Aishwarya )), who had signed a lucrative deal with Vogue magazine, also began appearing as the spokesmodel for L'Oréal Paris. Giorgio Armani saved Milan's Olimpia basketball team from folding by investing $3.7 million dollars in the club, which was renamed Armani Jeans Milano.

      During the year the fashion industry lost several notable figures, including designers Geoffrey Beene (Beene, Geoffrey ) and Stephen Sprouse (Sprouse, Stephen ), fashion photographers Richard Avedon (Avedon, Richard ) and Francesco Scavullo (Scavullo, Francesco ), and cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder (Lauder, Estee ). (See Obituaries.)

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2004

      Celebrities dominated the fashion scene in 2003. Jennifer Lopez, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Christina Aguilera, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Samantha Morton promoted the work of leading fashion designers Louis Vuitton, Donna Karan, Givenchy, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, and Marc Jacobs (Jacobs, Marc ) (see Biographies), respectively. Chanel appointed Oscar winner Nicole Kidman to be the face of the brand's legendary perfume, No. 5, a deal that earned the actress about $7.8 million. In July the Gap released a TV-ad campaign starring Madonna and rapper Missy Elliott, who together promoted jeans and T-shirts for the Gap's autumn-winter collection. As a part of her deal, Madonna signed a tie-in agreement that included the sale of her children's book, The English Roses, which was published in September. The Gap's rationale for appointing Madonna and Missy Elliott was shared by high-fashion designers who hired celebrity spokesmodels to attract more cash-rich female shoppers in their 30s and 40s.

      Iconic celebrity looks also proved inspirational to designers and the general public. Diana Ross's decadent 1970s early-disco style guided Tom Ford's autumn-winter 2003 collection for Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), and actress Ava Gardner's starlet glamour influenced the couture that Emanuel Ungaro presented for autumn-winter. “Hollywood, anyone!” read the program at Valentino's autumn-winter couture collection, which featured a parade of models wearing sable-trimmed dresses, embroidered-silk trouser suits, and long strapless satin evening dresses, accompanied by a retrospective video that captured Sophia Loren, Julia Roberts, and Elizabeth Taylor wearing Valentino couture at past Academy Awards ceremonies.

      For sartorial inspiration, young women looked to Kelly Osbourne, the 19-year-old singer and costar of the MTV reality sitcom The Osbournes, whose neo-Gothic look relied on chipped black nail polish, messy hair, vintage sunglasses, and Converse running shoes, as well as the 18-year-old Canadian rock star Avril Lavigne, whose messy disheveled, layered skateboard style was composed of baggy trousers and a T-shirt over which she wore an open-neck men's-style shirt and loosely knotted tie. Dolce & Gabbana claimed David Beckham and his pop-star wife, Victoria, as muses for the menswear and women's wear collection. The English association football (soccer) star and his wife modeled clothes by the Milanese design duo's collection throughout the year and wore them when they made a high-profile joint public appearance at events such as the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles. In June, at the All-England (Wimbledon) Championships, tennis player Venus Williams modeled on court another fashion-celebrity tie-in—RBK by DVF, a collection of tennis wear produced by New York designer Diane Von Furstenberg together with the sportswear company Reebok.

      Film proved to be a potent form of media for promoting fashion. A slew of light comedies were released during 2003 that bore similarities to the successful TV sitcom Sex and the City, which showcased pricey footwear, notably that of Spanish designer Manolo Blahnik. (See Biographies (Blahnik, Manolo ).) The films featured beautiful, fashionably dressed actresses and attracted audiences as much for their quirky plot lines as for the promise of viewing cutting-edge designer labels. In Le Divorce, Kate Hudson carried a Hermes Kelly handbag, and Reese Witherspoon wore shoes by Jimmy Choo in Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde. Fashionable films proved to be an expanding genre; the Fox film company announced plans to make into a film the 2003 best-selling novel The Devil Wears Prada. The sardonic work, about an assistant who works for the irrational editor of a fashion magazine, was written by Lauren Weisberger, a former assistant to American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, upon whom the central character was loosely based. Miramax acquired for £404,000 (about $670,000) the rights to Bergdorf Blondes, a novel written by Vogue writer Plum Sykes about a British fashion writer looking for love in Manhattan. New York's Killer Films announced plans to make Simply Halston, a biopic of the legendary American designer Roy Halston Frowick.

      Red-carpet occasions, especially film premieres and awards ceremonies, greatly influenced the direction of the ready-to-wear and couture collections. Designers presented flashy clothes seemingly aimed at catching the attention of celebrity stylists, who appeared at the seasonal shows in increasing numbers. For the autumn-winter season, jewel-encrusted tops and dresses appeared in Alber Elbaz's debut collection for the House of Lanvin as well as in ensembles designed by Alexander McQueen. Satin clothes and accessories appeared for both day and evening wear in an array of candy colours as well as in strong shades of basic black, bright purple, electric blue, and caramel in the spring-summer and autumn-winter ready-to-wear collections of Valentino, Missoni, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, and Carolina Herrara. A standout look was Louis Vuitton's satin minidress, which, in its June issue, American Vogue christened “Dress of the Month,” claiming it was a “luxurious upgrade of a retro diner uniform.”

      One of the trendsetting looks that debuted on the red carpet was the chandelier-style earrings worn by Kidman and Julianne Moore at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards. The presence at Los Angeles Fashion Week of Hollywood stars Witherspoon, Mena Suvari, China Chow, and Anjelica Huston made the show a noteworthy occasion. In April and late October, Seventh on Sixth, the organizer of New York City fashion shows, staged its first series of centralized fashion shows in Los Angeles and attracted recognized local design-talent participants, including actress Tara Subkoff, the designer of Imitation of Christ, and designers Trina Turk, David Cardona, and Frankie B.

      A wide range of global ideas pushed the boundaries of the fashion world beyond the traditional Western capitals. For his spring-summer collection, Jacobs collaborated with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to make “eye love,” a line of handbags that merged the luxury label's iconic monogrammatic print with the artist's Pop-art graphics. During the autumn-winter ready-to-wear collections in Paris, African model Alek Wek launched “1933,” an accessories and handbag collection inspired by her native country, The Sudan. In May the New York City department store Lord & Taylor devoted 20 of its Fifth Avenue windows to promotion of the work of four designers from India: Tarun Tahiliani, Rina Dhaka, Vivek Narang, and Manish Arora. The New York Times reported that Lakme India Fashion Week in Mumbai (Bombay) attracted increasing numbers of international buyers, an advantage that helped boost the presence of native fashion talent at the annual event. Italian Vogue's March 2003 issue featured a 15-page portfolio of portraits, shot by Nathaniel Goldberg, of prominent stylish Indian women dressed in traditional saris and sumptuous jewels, and a spring-summer advertising campaign produced by Valentino featured an Indian model displaying a traditional bindhi dot on her forehead. Yves Carcelle, head of the fashion group at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, told the New York Times in May that “India is changing quite fast”; Louis Vuitton opened its 298th shop during the year—in New Delhi's Oberoi Hotel.

      While exotic ideas and celebrity glamour helped shift high-fashion merchandise, common themes that united the year's major fashion trends were affordability and wearability. At the spring-summer collections, a safe colour palette, consisting of pretty pinks and pastel shades, dominated women's wear. Appearing on the runways at Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Balenciaga were basic shapes, including combat trousers—made of parachute silk and satin—that were often accessorized with stilettos. Though some fashion critics spoke out against designers who capitalized on military-inspired styles during a time of war, cargo and combat pants proved to be an overwhelmingly popular street-fashion trend. So too were denim miniskirts, designer jeans, and basic black leggings, which first appeared as a part of Nicolas Ghesquiere's surf-inspired spring-summer collection for Balenciaga. After a slew of celebrities were spotted wearing black leggings—Chloë Sevigny at a Cannes Film Festival premiere and Stella McCartney and Kate Moss in London—British retailer Top Shop reportedly sold them by the hundreds. In summer inexpensive rubber flip flops proliferated as a unisex look on the beach and on city streets. Those made by Brazilian company Havaianas became cult items—supermodels Naomi Campbell, Moss, and Gisele Bündchen were photographed wearing them.

      For autumn-winter a greatest-hits array of safe, classic retro styles from nearly every decade of the 20th century appeared on the runways, including turn-of-the-century corsets designed by Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, and McCartney; 1940s-style fur collars and tweed separates; and 1950s-inspired pencil skirts. Evening wear inspired by one of Audrey Hepburn's most famous roles, Sabrina, appeared at Givenchy, and the 1960s mod miniskirt look proved to be a major inspiration for Jacobs.

      Affordable fashion was a direct response to the continued slowdown of the global economy. A collapsing dollar and yen, the outbreak of and ongoing war in Iraq, and the epidemic of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) were all factors that curbed consumer spending worldwide. (The SARS outbreak, however, started a craze in Hong Kong for the wearing of protective face masks bearing counterfeit prints of luxury fashion logos and imitation Burberry plaid.) The Hong Kong-based company Tommy Hilfiger reported losses of $513 million (in the year up to March), and the Gucci Group reportedly injected £4 million (about $6.7 million) to revive the Stella McCartney brand, which struggled to break even, reporting losses during the summer of £2.7 million (about $4.5 million) despite the high profile of the celebrity designer; her friends Gwyneth Paltrow and Hudson were known to wear her clothes. In August McCartney married Alasdhair Willis, a British entrepreneur and the former publisher of the magazine Wallpaper.

      Not all fashion forecasts were gloomy, however. Profits soared by 52% for Hilfiger's rival Ralph Lauren. The Gucci Group announced increased profits of 75.3% for its recent acquisition, YSL, while some of its other labels, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Stella McCartney, each opened new boutiques in London, on New Bond Street and elsewhere. In an effort to stimulate flagging sales at Jil Sander, the Prada Group—which paid €100 million (about $117 million) for the German label and then reported losses of €26.3 million (about $31 million)—hired back its original founder, Jil Sander, as a creative director and board member. In December 2000 after Prada acquired 75% of her company, Sander had departed the company swiftly, owing to what she described as the “hands-on interference of Patrizio Bertelli,” Prada's chief executive.

      In March the sportswear giant Liz Claiborne acquired for an undisclosed multimillion-dollar sum the hip Los Angeles denim and casual label Juicy Couture. Lars Nilsson, the Swedish-born designer for Bill Blass, was appointed artistic director of women's wear at the French fashion house Nina Ricci. In July, Los Angeles designer Rick Owens debuted a new sportswear collection for Revillon, the 280-year-old French furrier; it featured experimental looks, including asymmetrically cut shrugs and stoles made from sliced sable, mink, and goat. In May, Jean-Paul Gaultier replaced Martin Margiela as creative director of the French luxury-goods house Hermes. In autumn the London-based Ghanian-born designer Ozwald Boateng became the first Savile Row tailor to open an American store on Madison Avenue in New York City. Phillips-Van Heusen acquired Calvin Klein, and in September Klein retired as design director of the company's women's wear line. He was replaced by Francisco Costa, a 34-year-old Brazilian designer who had formerly worked for Ford at Gucci. For his services to British fashion, Jimmy Choo was made an honorary OBE in June. Francesco Trussardi, the 29-year old CEO of the Italian luxury-fashion house Trussardi, was killed in a car accident in January. Eleanor Lambert, the founder of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, died in October. (See Obituaries. (Lambert, Eleanor ))

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2003

      Luxurious apparel, relaxed styles, architecturally stunning new clothing stores, and attractive maternity clothes brightened the fashion scene in 2002.

      Feel-good fashion was the predominant style delivered by international designers in 2002. Colour and comfort were the bywords for women's wear in summer. Rainbow-bright shades of orange and yellow were popular, as were vibrant prints—notably Celine's flower-power pattern, which appeared on bikinis, skirts, and ruffled blouses. Paul Smith, Miu Miu, and Dolce & Gabanna featured floral-printed dress shirts for men.

      Delicate floral embroidery (seen first on white folkloric-inspired coats and knee-high leather boots at Marc Jacobs's 2002 spring-summer collection for Louis Vuitton) and exotic butterfly appliqués (seen on skirts and chiffon tops by Matthew Williamson and on Christian Dior handbags) were looks that were later copied by a slew of lower-priced fashion labels. Fresh white became the alternative to basic black. Several designers, including Viktor & Rolf, Bally, Calvin Klein, and Strenesse, presented white trouser and skirt suits on their runways.

      Relaxed styles, including loose peasant and ethnic-inspired tops and layered skirts, flooded boutiques. Prada delivered burnished-gold pajama-style tops, and one of the most popular items on Tom Ford's Yves Saint Laurent catwalk was a floaty, roomy caftan, made of hand-embroidered jaguar print on silk muslin, which was later worn by singer Alicia Keys. With a price tag of £22,285 (about $32,425), it was reportedly the most expensive caftan in the world. Less-expensive variations were produced by Allegra Hicks, Dries Van Noten, and Marni.

      High-profile celebrities such as Madonna, Elle Macpherson, Sadie Frost, Kate Winslet, and Kate Beckinsale opted for casual-chic clothing. All were captured by the paparazzi sporting plush velour tracksuits by Juicy Couture—a Los Angeles fashion brand designed by two friends, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor. Meanwhile, the most popular footwear for women for summer included Prada's low kitten heels (which appeared in suede and brocade) and for men and women stylish sneakers that designers made by collaborating with sportswear brands. Comme des Garcons designed a few styles with Nike, and Yohji Yamamoto collaborated with Adidas. Vintage Adidas nylon-striped tracksuits became cult fashion items after actor Ben Stiller and his two film sons sported them in Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums; Gwyneth Paltrow's Lacoste dresses for that film repopularized the early 1980s preppy style.

      Elizabeth Hurley—who appeared on the August cover of Harper's Bazaar cuddling her newborn baby boy—was at the forefront of a new generation of stylish new mothers and mothers-to-be, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Brandy, Macpherson, Frost, Claudia Schiffer, and Kate Moss, who transformed the notion of maternity clothes by wearing high heels and oversized designer fashion for public appearances. As a result, a number of designers, including Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenberg (who launched a maternity wrap dress), introduced plus-size versions of their traditional styles; the denim label Earl debuted a style of jeans with a comfortable elasticized waist.

      Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld— recipient of the Council of Fashion Designers of America 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award—further translated the look-good, feel-good idea by having shed some 40 kg (90 lb) since 2000. In October he published a low-calorie cookbook with the French doctor whose diet he followed.

      Ethnic accessories, particularly those inspired by Africa—such as Yves Saint Laurent's Mombasa bag, a chunky dark leather, bone-handled handbag, and items by Anna Trzebinski, such as bags, shawls, and suede coats that were inspired by the Masai and Samburu tribes of Kenya—came to be sought after by women. The accessories that typified fashion's feel-good factor, however, were necklaces, bracelets, and belts made of stones such as rock crystal and Navajo Indian-inspired turquoise and coral, which were thought to be infused with healing properties.

      The fashion retail sector experienced a sharp decline in sales in 2002, however, after the global economy faltered and the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan and then hovered on the brink of war with Iraq. The Gucci Group announced in June that its net income had fallen by 42%. Despite the efforts of Prada designer Miuccia Prada (see Biographies (Prada, Miuccia )), the company reportedly incurred over $1 billion in debt. Layoffs in American textile mills reflected that the industry had been hard hit by the lean economy. Luxury analysts predicted that the sale of Valentino to the Marzotto apparel group in late March could be one of the last in a long line of luxury takeovers that had begun in the late 1990s.

      Nevertheless, some fashion labels attempted to modernize their look to attract new customers. In April Christian Lacroix was appointed artistic director of the Florentine fashion label Pucci by LVMH (which also owned his personal fashion label), and Parisian designer Christophe Lemaire filled the same post at Lacoste. British designer Lizzy Disney presented her collection for Jacques Fath; Indian designer Ritu Beri displayed her redeveloped look for Jean-Louis Scherrer; and Laetitia Hecht unveiled a new ready-to-wear collection for Guy Laroche. Their new work met with mixed reviews, however.

      Despite the gloomy outlook, there was positive fashion news. Rose Marie Bravo, chief executive of British luxury label Burberry Ltd., successfully floated 25% of the company's shares on the London Stock Exchange in July. During Bravo's five-year tenure, the company had experienced a fivefold increase in value, and she was rewarded with $15 million in compensation. Marc Jacobs proved to be another fashion success story; sales for his personal labels totaled $50 million. His eponymous label, his diffusion line, Marc, and his designs for Louis Vuitton all proved popular with customers, despite his tendency to reinterpret 1970s styles for men and women. Designer Stephen Burrows, whose signature look—sleek lettuce-edged bias-cut dresses and separates—was revived in collections produced by Jacobs and von Furstenberg, also relaunched his label and opened a boutique at the upscale New York department store Henri Bendel. Zac Posen—a 21-year-old New York designer—debuted his first collection on the New York 2002 spring-summer catwalk; his 1940s-inspired dresses proved so popular that in September his work appeared in every window of Bloomingdale's department store in New York City.

      Marks & Spencer, Britain's largest fashion retailer, reported a growth of more than 8% in clothing sales for the three months to September 2001. In addition, French luxury brand Hermès reported a 15.3% rise in net income for 2001 and announced plans to open seven new shops. Prada, Burberry, Donna Karan, Escada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton all spent millions of dollars opening huge architecturally designed retail flagship stores in New York in 2002. In May, Kuwaiti Prince Majed al-Sabah hosted a lavish party to open Villa Moda, a 9,000-sq-m (100,000-sq-ft) luxury fashion store in Kuwait City. His store would feature designs by Stella McCartney, Consuela Castiglioni (of Marni's), and Carla Fendi. Upscale boutiques opened during the Paris couture shows in July—including Bottega Veneta (as a showcase for its new designer, Tomas Maier), Manolo Blahnik, and Dolce & Gabbana. Giorgio Armani opened his first boutique in Moscow.

      Though sales in the U.S. had reportedly dropped 5% in 2001, luxury items were still selling. Saks Fifth Avenue claimed that the store's top luxury sellers included an $11,200 patchwork coat by Oscar de la Renta. Conspicuous consumption, however, had lost its allure. Sales of handbags and accessories embossed with designer logos by Chanel, Fendi, Gucci, Ferragamo, Hermès, and Prada declined sharply. Retail analysts explained that consumers wanted a change—the new trend was individuality.

      Excessive luxury dominated the autumn-winter ready-to-wear catwalks, even though it seemed out of sync with the leaner economic times. The flat shoes seen in the summer were replaced by extremely high heels, some of which featured grosgrain and velvet ribbon ankle straps. A soft round-toe shoe emerged to replace the pointy styles seen in past seasons. Expensive exotic skins such as crocodile, python, and eel were used to make accessories as well as clothing items such as skirts and trousers.

      Fur also experienced a new popularity. French Vogue's entire September issue was dedicated to fur. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen became the face of Blackglama mink's “What becomes a legend most?” advertising campaign. Early in the year, mink-lined jean jackets were popular streetwear items. At the autumn-winter couture shows, sable was used as trimming at Valentino and Balmain. Carolina Herrera produced sable cuffs in her ready-to-wear collection; Bottega Veneta introduced a sable stole; and Jean Paul Gaultier and Gucci used it to make sweaters. Michael Kors used coyote to create vests and gaiters, and Jacobs trimmed a wool and cashmere tunic in coyote for Louis Vuitton. Kors delivered coyote-trimmed parkas for his autumn-winter women's ready to wear, and Alberta Ferretti made duffle coats with rabbit-lined hoods. Rabbit fur coats were a less-expensive alternative offered by Allesandro dell'Acqua and MaxMara. Iman, meanwhile, became the ambassador and consultant for De Beers LV, a new jewelry line launched by LVMH in collaboration with the South African diamond company De Beers.

      Some designers merged practicality with luxury. The dominant trend for autumn-winter menswear was what British GQ labeled “expensive scruff,” a look that blended luxury and casual wear—a pin-striped suit jacket mixed with denim jeans or a crewneck sweater worn with a pair of Converse athletic shoes. Reliable black dresses dominated the catwalks. Long chunky knit scarves by Jacobs, Missoni, and Dolce & Gabanna were affordable items that could update an old look. Staples such as trousers—in a variety of styles from super tight to cropped short above the ankle—and pencil skirts proliferated. Reappearing on the autumn-winter catwalks were folk-inspired ethnic looks and miniskirts by Chloe and Chanel as well as designer denim. Alexander McQueen produced sweeping jean skirts. Skinny jeans produced by Karl Lagerfeld and Diesel for the Lagerfeld Gallery line were highly desired.

      Collaborations between artists and designers increased the desirability of fashion items. A new term, fashion/art was coined to explain the phenomenon. Illustrator Julie Verhoeven was commissioned by Jacobs to produce a fairytail-style collage for a Louis Vuitton handbag, which became known as its Dreamscape bag. Painter Gary Hume's line drawings were reproduced on T-shirts and dresses in Stella McCartney's spring-summer collection. McCartney utilized pencil drawings of the model Tetyana produced by painter David Remfry for her autumn-winter advertising campaign. Belgian menswear designer Raf Simons produced transparent ponchos with the British artist Simon Periton. Illustrator Tanya Ling presented her autumn-winter collection in an installation designed by artist Gavin Turk.

      A number of fashion-inspired exhibitions dominated some of London's leading galleries. Mario Testino's photographs were the subject in February–June of a retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery; fashion historian Anne Hollander curated “Fabric of Vision: Dress and Drapery in Painting,” which opened in June at the National Gallery; and “When Philip Met Isabella” opened in July at the Design Museum. The latter displayed hats that Irish milliner Philip Treacy had created for his muse, British stylist Isabella Blow. Two fashion exhibitions opened in London in October. At the Barbican, “Rapture: Art's Seduction by Fashion Since 1970” explored fashion's relationship with art, and a major retrospective featuring the works of Gianni Versace appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

      Other major events that rocked the fashion world included the retirement of Yves Saint Laurent and the deaths of American designer Bill Blass (see Obituaries (Blass, William Ralph )) and makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2002

      The international fashion industry, already suffering from early signs of recession, found its gloomy outlook compounded following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. Prior to the attacks, the Gap, an American retail giant, had laid off 800 employees and reported that company earnings had decreased by 22%. Luxury goods companies LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the Gucci Group revised their strategies in the wake of the attacks and admitted that earnings would slow and that they were preparing for a “prolonged slowdown.” Wolfgang Ley, chief executive of the German fashion empire Escada, confirmed that his company's American sales had dropped by half following September 11.

      The attacks in New York City coincided with 7th on Sixth, the Council of Fashion Designers of America's (CFDA) spring-summer 2002 shows. Though the international fashion community had gathered in the city to celebrate, critique, and acquire merchandise for the upcoming season, business ground to a halt as the disaster unfolded. The CFDA canceled the runway shows. A week or two later several New York designers presented their collections in their showrooms. Prominent American buyers, frightened by the prospect of more terrorist hijackings and aware of the lean financial times ahead, refrained from traveling to see the European collections.

      That fashion reflected the change in society was a point that became apparent when the U.S. and Great Britain declared war on terrorism in October. The trappings of battle—military-inspired clothing and camouflage print as well as a range of urban-guerrilla graffiti art—had dominated the international spring-summer catwalks. To the sound of a coronet and battle drums, Miguel Adrover offered suits modeled on 1940s army uniforms and trousers based on army fatigues. Miuccia Prada wore a belted military jacket and platform shoes to the unveiling of her collection—plain gray, navy, and black cotton skirts and sweaters that were reminiscent of the drab Mao uniform. In Paris camouflage was seen at Comme des Garçons, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and Christian Dior; at Celine, Michael Kors accessorized bikini bottoms, hot pants, and mesh tank-top dresses with bullet-studded belts. Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton featured jackets with epaulets. The onset of war, however, forced the fashion industry to reconsider its direction. Violent imagery and terrorist-chic styling were reappraised.

      At the autumn-winter 2001 collections—shown in the summer—designers explored the Middle East. Heads were wrapped and faces were hidden behind scarves at Raf Simons's menswear show. Adrover looked to Egypt for inspiration; his collection made its debut in a nomad's tent, where a female model wore a white headdress and a djellaba, a male model donned harem pants, and pantsuits were layered over tunics and kaftans. Though Gucci showed harem pants for spring-summer 2002, the look failed to take off on the street.

      Luella Bartley and Jacobs's punkish sensibility was shared by designers Donatella Versace, Balenciaga, Anna Sui, and Junya Watanabe, who for inspiration also looked to the New Wave scene that dominated popular music in the early 1980s. Prom dresses, cocktail sheaths, full 1950s-style skirts (which were favoured in the '80s), minis, pedal pushers, leather jackets worn over slips, fur stoles, and rhinestones showed up on their catwalks. For spring-summer, playful trends were plentiful. Modern floral prints—roses, hydrangeas, and wild flowers that had been digitally enhanced by computer technology—looked more abstract than realistic after the images were transferred onto skirts and dresses designed by Cacharel (which presented its first collection in Paris designed by the London duo Clements Ribeiro), Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten, Dolce & Gabbana, Eley Kishimoto, Marni, and Jean-Paul Gaultier. A nautical look—interpreted as striped shirts—appeared at Prada and Marni, and a trailer-trash look—handbags inspired by 1950s Cadillacs and chiffon dresses featuring silver YKK zippers and strips of denim—was the theme behind John Galliano's collection for his own line as well as Christian Dior. Nicolas Ghesquiere's collection for Callaghan, which included draped jersey dresses, revealed a Grecian influence. At their spring-summer shows, John Bartlett, Kors, Gucci, and Chanel introduced the white shirt as a new staple. Both seasons also signified a return to black dressing. Karan's and Ralph Lauren's spring-summer shows were composed of black and white (Lauren also included chocolate-brown pieces). Tom Ford's much-anticipated debut collection for Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear, almost entirely composed of black and white clothes, disappointed critics who were waiting for something more spectacular. The focal point of the collection was Saint Laurent's iconic 1960s tuxedo suit, Le Smoking.

      Opulence was a theme at autumn-winter shows. Designer Ford presented satin clothes in deep purple at Yves Saint Laurent and hot pink at Gucci. The Versace and Valentino shows were laden with fur, and Milanese designer Roberto Cavalli incorporated ostrich feathers into his collection; he also lined distressed denim dresses with fur and encrusted silk blousons with semiprecious jewels. Amid the fun and frivolity, sensible styles prevailed.

      Basic black and white did not disappoint critics at the autumn-winter 2001 collections. Particular standouts were Nicolas Ghesquiere's work for Balenciaga, which included items ranging from reworked Victorian corset tops, biker jackets, and combat trousers made from oiled cotton; “little black dresses” featured by Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg; Gucci baby dolls; Viktor & Rolf's entirely black collection; Fendi's white Courrèges-style Mod look—composed of white boots, handbags, and patent coats—and Jacobs's Doctor Zhivago-themed collection for Louis Vuitton; it featured black-and-white fur hats, black lace-up boots, and structured, Cossack-inspired black coats trimmed with white mink.

      Women also responded to the black-and-white theme. Socialites and celebrities at high-profile parties wore ensembles composed of a solid shade of either colour or a combination of both. Black dresses proved to be the chic choices on Oscar night—Julia Roberts looked refined in a silver-trimmed black 1982 Valentino couture gown; Catherine Zeta-Jones chose a black strapless Versace dress; and Sarah Jessica Parker (see Biographies (Parker, Sarah Jessica )) appeared in a chic black minidress.

      Parker's eclectic wardrobe for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in the hit show Sex & the City was talked about as much as the show's plotline. Discussion about shoes designed by Manolo Blahnik figured prominently in the script, and designs by Marni, Fendi, Prada, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, and Dior were just some of the labels that Carrie and her fellow characters—Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda—could be seen in each week. The show also launched trends—including a craze for the fabric corsages Carrie frequently wore as accessories—and designers who supplied clothes for the show saw incredible returns; Timmy Woods, a Beverly Hills, Calif.–based designer, reported taking 1,000 orders for a horse-head purse that appeared on the show for only two seconds.

      On the street, however, young women embraced “reality dressing,” a casual chic uniform that was composed of three essential pieces: designer jeans, a deconstructed T-shirt, and high heels or athletic shoes. This style emerged in response to the popularity of reality TV programs. (See Sidebar. (TV-Too Big a Dose of Reality? ))

      Throngs of celebrities appeared at the spring-summer and autumn-winter shows. Tickets for the presentation of rap star Sean (“P. Diddy”) Combs's label, Sean John, were in great demand; the event occurred in the midst of his trial on weapons and bribery charges. The CFDA's decision in February to sell 7th on Sixth to the International Management Group, an agency that represented athletes and entertainers, heightened the sense that fashion was increasingly becoming part of the entertainment industry. Further proof was evidenced in the launch of more fashion brands by celebrity and personality designers, including the jeans line J. Lo by Jennifer Lopez (see Biographies (Lopez, Jennifer )); Intimates, a line of lingerie by model Elle MacPherson; and Marie-Chantal, upscale baby clothes labels designed by Princess Marie-Chantal Miller of Greece. Reinvigorated brands appeared on the retail frontier. Under the direction of its new designer in chief Scott Fellows, Bally of Switzerland debuted on Milan catwalks clothing lines for men and women as well as its more fashion-forward line of bags and shoes. At Burberry, CEO Rose Marie Bravo appointed Christopher Bailey, who had worked with Tom Ford at Gucci, to the position of designer. In March, Narciso Rodríguez announced his departure from Spanish leather-goods house LVMH. Loewe and LVMH appointed Julien MacDonald design director of Givenchy, where he replaced Alexander McQueen, who in December 2000 had sold 51% of his company to the Gucci Group. In April, Gucci announced that, in a similar joint venture, it would back Stella McCartney (see Biographies (McCartney, Stella )), Chloe's former designer, in establishing her own design label. Phoebe Philo became Chloe's new creative director. Gucci also acquired Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta. Asprey & Garrard announced that it would split into two labels with two distinct retail operations. Jade Jagger and Hussein Chalayan were asked to form an in-house design team that would create a new luxury label.

      In the realm of modeling, Karolina Kurkova, a 17-year-old Czech model, became the new face of glamour; Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen announced her retirement from runway shows; Elizabeth Jagger—the daughter of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall—launched her modeling career; and Carolyn Murphy replaced actress Elizabeth Hurley as the new face of Estée Lauder.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2001

      The fashion industry witnessed a changing of the guard in 2000. Legendary 20th-century designers Bill Blass and Yves Saint Laurent retired and were replaced by younger faces. American Steven Slowik—who had designed ready-to-wear fashions for Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence before becoming an independent designer in Paris—succeeded Blass, but his 2000 spring-summer collection was a critical failure. Gucci designer Tom Ford took over the reins at Saint Laurent, where he would design both menswear and the women's ready-to-wear line Rive Gauche. Alber Elbaz, Rive Gauche's former designer, moved to Milan and took over as head designer at Krizia. Saint Laurent's menswear designer Hedi Slimane, who had successfully reestablished and popularized the company's menswear in the 1990s, moved to head up menswear design at Christian Dior. Jil Sander resigned as chairman of her company in January and sold 75% of her stock to the Prada group, which later purchased Azzedine Alaia, famous in the 1980s for its body-hugging lycra dresses.

      A shift also took place among prominent women at the forefront of style. The front-row seats at New York fashion shows were filled with young, stylish Manhattan socialites, notably sisters Aerin and Jane Lauder (granddaughters of beauty mogul Estée Lauder), Alexandra and Erin Lind, Samantha and Serena Boardman, Lulu de Kwiatkowski, and the Miller sisters: Pia Getty, Alexandra von Fürstenberg, and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. Their presence overshadowed that of elder American fashion icons Nan Kempner, Nancy Kissinger, Betsey Bloomingdale, and Pat Buckley.

      A contingent of designers produced pieces for both spring-summer and autumn-winter that seemed directly inspired by this so-called Park Avenue Princess look. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Valentino all produced crisp and sophisticated yet sexy and luxurious wardrobe staples, perfect for luncheon—trousers, skirts, shirtdresses, and day coats in solid colours such as white and red. Established designers such as Carolina Herrera—who in midsummer opened her first shop on Madison Avenue in New York City—and Oscar de la Renta (named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America [CFDA]) succeeded in presenting modern collections that appealed to both younger and older socialites. In Great Britain, Hussein Chalayan (see Biographies) was named Designer of the Year for the second consecutive year.

      It was Michael Kors, however, who best captured the neoconservative zeitgeist with his spring-summer collection Palm Bitch, a humorous take on the styles that the young rich wore while vacationing in Palm Beach, Fla. The look featured skimpy bikinis and bright acid-yellow and uber-lime silk shirts, as well as matching head scarves. Kors continued the rich-bitch theme for the spring-summer collection of Celine, the French Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned line of which he was creative director, but he added a European twist by including such items as tie-dyed silk-denim jeans that were inspired by the French seaside resort town Saint-Tropez. Kors's collection and the jet-set chic current that filtered through spring-summer fashion—Louis Vuitton produced a signature beach towel, Versace made rhinestone-rimmed sunglasses, and Burberry unveiled its first bikini in the company's signature plaid—were a direct response to the bull market and the long-term economic boom in the West. Increasingly, women were wearing expensive jewelry with casual daytime clothes. In Tokyo, Paris, and London, Cartier opened a string of “casual-style” shops, where the atmosphere was meant to be relaxed and no item exceeded £15,000 (about $21,750).

      European designers adopted their own interpretation of the refined, conservative look. Sincere chic, a ladylike theme, dominated Miuccia Prada's spring-summer collection, which included demure silk pussycat-bow blouses with matching pleated skirts and cardigan sweaters. Prada's theme proved influential. Her large bowling-bag-style handbag became an instant best-seller and was quickly copied by retailers, who successfully sold their own much-less-expensive versions. For autumn-winter a group of international designers—Narciso Rodriguez, Clements Ribeiro, Max Mara, Alberta Ferretti, Marcus Lupfer, and Turssardi—all produced ladylike clothes such as 1950s- and '60s-inspired dresses, tweed suits, and blouse and skirt ensembles. Such styles, particularly Prada's, drew heavily on vintage clothing, increasingly sought after from such specialized vintage vendors as Kenny Valenti in New York and Vent in London. Most designer ladylike styles and accessories—such as Gucci's classic Chanel-inspired sling backs and Jackie Onassis-style coats and Michael Kors's Barbara Bush-like multilayer pearl necklace created by Janis Savitt—were produced with a definite modern feeling. Gucci's pumps featured high, slim heels, and its coats were accessorized with dark sunglasses and psychedelic head scarves.

      Although the new uptown style was a dominant look, it was countered by an urban downtown cool look—an inventive style that merged art with fashion. British Vogue defined the look as featuring battered fabrics, tight stonewashed denim, baseball caps, and fake designer tracksuits worn with cheap stilettos. At the forefront of the downtown cool generation was Chloë Sevigny, whose film role as a young woman who falls in love with a lesbian in the controversial Boys Don't Cry thrust her into the media spotlight. American Vogue columnist Andre Leon Talley praised her unique style and singled her out as a new fashion icon and perhaps “the new postmodern grunge Audrey Hepburn.

      Austrian designer Helmut Lang, who in 1997 had moved his business from Paris to New York, launched the first art-inspired fragrance of the 21st century, an eponymous perfume—one for men and another for women. As with fashion's neoconservative look, both established labels and younger designers experimented with the downtown aesthetic. For Chanel's autumn-winter collection, Karl Lagerfeld fashioned a handbag from distressed denim, and for Christian Dior's spring-summer couture show, John Galliano took inspiration from street urchins. Meanwhile, in New York, Miguel Adrover, a 34-year-old Spanish self-taught designer who had worked briefly for Alexander McQueen, debuted his inventive spring-summer collection—highlighted by a day coat made from cotton ticking taken from the mattress of his neighbour, the late Quentin Crisp—which won him the respect of fashion critics as well as the CFDA's Perry Ellis Award for Women's Wear.

      At the forefront of London's young fashion scene was a group of friends and colleagues: Luella Bartley, Katie Grand, Liberty Ross, and Giles Deacon. Bartley, a former Vogue fashion writer, followed her promising 1999 debut with a 2000 spring-summer collection that personified the new London girl look—pink gingham shirts and shrunken kilts paired with striped ankle socks and Converse sneakers. Her friend Grand, a stylist and fashion director for the British youth magazine The Face, promoted Bartley's work in Pop, a new arts-meets-fashion magazine that Grand launched in September as editor. Ross, a young British model who was hailed in Britain as the next Kate Moss, was also found on the pages of Pop; in addition, she modeled for Luella and fronted advertising campaigns for Burberry and Emanuel Ungaro. Meanwhile, Deacon, a young London-based designer, was appointed creative director of the Italian leather goods label Bottega Veneta. Deacon succeeded in updating the company's signature style—woven leather—with a more modern design aesthetic. Formerly tacky sun visors were reworked in ostentatious crocodile skin, and the shell suit was retooled as sensuous casual wear in the most expensive supple leather. Deacon's footwear for autumn-winter—kitten-heeled two-tone pumps and red leather baggy boots—were found on the most fashionable feet, just as Marc Jacobs's stitched flat-heeled shoes and low-heeled sling backs were in the summer.

      Style-conscious teenage girls emerged as the new affluent free spenders. Their role models were blonde pop singers such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Meanwhile, supermodels Christy Turlington, who launched an Ayurvedic skin-care line, Sundari, and Claudia Schiffer, who publicly romanced her playboy boyfriend, Tim Jeffries, reestablished their modeling careers as 30-something role models. When the first issue of Teen Vogue was published in September, the New York Times newspaper noted that “the upward-striving teenager is now more than ever the target of luxury marketers who once focused strictly on adults.” Making inroads into the teenage market were Chanel, Ralph Lauren (who introduced his first teenage scent, Ralph), Lancôme, and Versace. Teenage shoppers boosted sales at upscale shops around the world. Fortune magazine reported that Spanish international clothing retailer Zara, which specialized in manufactured copies of designer clothes, reported sales of $2 billion, a profit gain of 34%. The Gap, meanwhile, opened its biggest shop in the world on Regent Street in London.

      African American style icons, once relegated to the sidelines of style, emerged as major industry players. Music producer and rapper Sean (“Puff Daddy”) Combs introduced Sean John, his first ready-to-wear line for men and women during the 2000 autumn-winter fashion week in New York. His collection responded to the popularity of Ghetto Fabulous—a unisex look that promoted the overt luxury that he, his girlfriend, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, and black female musicians Mary J. Blige, Lil' Kim, and the trio TLC had established. The Ghetto Fabulous look popularized labels such as Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, and Galliano's designs for Christian Dior, as well as copious amounts of chunky real gold and diamond jewelry and fur of rare breeds, such as chinchilla. Motorola's answer to the look was a diamond-encrusted mobile phone, which retailed for $25,000. Logomania—a look that overtly displayed designer initials on clothes, jewelry, and accessories such as handbags and shoes—was the fashion industry's take on Ghetto Fabulous and was popularized in the 2000 spring-summer collections by Gucci, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, and Galliano at Dior.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 2000

      Business deals—more than a definitive look or an inspirational role model—defined fashion news in 1999. Prada, the $800 million fashion company run by Miuccia Prada, acquired two of the leading international designer labels—Helmut Lang and Jil Sander. Prada also launched a joint venture with Italian eyewear maker De Rigo and acquired an 8.5% stake in the British footwear company Church & Co.

      Meanwhile, Gucci, fronted by CEO Domenico De Sole and Gucci designer Tom Ford (see Biographies (Ford, Tom )), avoided a hostile takeover bid from Bernard Arnault, president of French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Instead, De Sole and Ford forged a deal that made Gucci a part of Pinault-Printemps Redoute, a new luxury goods group that owned French department stores and the Yves Saint Laurent fashion and fragrance empire and was controlled by French billionaire François Pinault. The move increased speculation that Ford would soon replace Alber Elbaz—who received lukewarm reviews for his autumn-winter 1999 collection, which concentrated on modernizing Yves Saint Laurent classic pieces—as the designer of Saint Laurent's ready-to-wear line, Rive Gauche. LVHM and Prada teamed up, however, to purchase for $1 billion a majority stake in Fendi, which specialized in handbags. LVHM also acquired Tag Heuer, Bliss, and Hard Candy.

      As fashion houses became conglomerates, designer labels became “megabrands.” Designers were bigger celebrities than ever before, and their shares as well as their shirts could be bought. Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Bulgari, and Estée Lauder all made public offerings of their stock. To increase global brand awareness, leading fashion designers expanded their role beyond that of producing clothes and accessories to that of creating a fashionable lifestyle. Ralph Lauren, since the 1980s already a leader in designing furniture, opened a restaurant in Chicago. Other designers, such as Bill Blass, Nicole Farhi, Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Consuelo Castiglione of Marni, and Tommy Hilfiger, also began designing what the press termed homewear.

      Leading designers staged shows with budgets that rivaled the cost of producing independent films. Alexander McQueen's hour-long spring-summer 2000 show, which debuted in September 1999 in New York, was backed with a $1 million budget (about 10 times the usual amount) provided by American Express. Several outspoken critics wondered if the lavish production level of seasonal shows had begun to get in the way of the original task at hand. In an article titled “Versailles Hosts Dior Delirium” by Suzy Menkes, the author described John Galliano's winter 1999 couture show, which was staged at Louis XIV's chateau in Versailles, France, and took inspiration from the science-fiction film The Matrix, as a “Gothic fright make-up, clothes apparently made from discarded battle dress and headgear composed of dead birds and animals.” More popular was the feminine style of functional luxury produced by Michael Kors, who designed the costumes for actress Rene Russo in John McTierman's remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. Kors also produced his own New York-based collection and seasonal lines for the Paris-based label Céline.

      Galliano's end-of-the-millennium excess affected several sectors of the fashion industry. In January Brett Easton Ellis's novel Glamorama, which attempted to portray the decadent lifestyle led by fashion-industry professionals, was published to mixed reviews. In March model Kate Moss revealed to The Face, a London magazine, that in 10 years of modeling she had never walked down a catwalk sober. In November 1998 Moss had admitted herself to a rehabilitation clinic and was reportedly sober a month later. She lost her lucrative Calvin Klein modeling contract, however, as the designer appointed a new face to front his fashion house—British model Lisa Ratliffe, whose lithe look failed to generate the same interest that Moss's fragile features provoked in the early 1990s. The star model of 1999 was the curvaceous 18-year-old Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen—who made headlines in September when she left Elite to join Mark McCormack's IMG agency. Rumoured to be earning more than $5 million annually, Bündchen appeared on several magazine covers, including British Vogue, W, and Veja, and was showcased in the most prestigious fashion advertising campaigns, including those of Ralph Lauren, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Céline.

      The clothes seen at the international seasonal ready-to-wear collections summed up the prevailing spirit of sartorial excess. Sumptuous clothes appeared for spring, including the colourful dance frocks by Tuleh, a New York label founded by former stylist Josh Patner and Bryan Bradley, a freelance designer. Gucci made spring-summer skirts, dresses, tops, and bags from six-screen exotic floral print fabric. These popular items sold out of Gucci shops worldwide and inspired numerous copies. For autumn-winter McQueen designed huge sculptural wool sweaters that swamped the models wearing them.

      Hot colours such as lipstick pink, bright orange, turquoise, and red proved popular options for women's wear in summer and winter. The long sugar-pink Lauren dress worn by actress Gwyneth Paltrow to the Academy Awards, however, was overshadowed by the appeal of Cate Blanchett's floor-length black-beaded Galliano dress. Both were later copied by dress manufacturer ABS and sold at American department stores for about $300. Beaded accessories—such as wristbands, lariats, feather and beaded jewelry made by London's Ericson Beamon as well as by Jade Jagger—were worn by women during both daytime and evening. Sonia Rykiel presented flat rhinestone shoes at her spring-summer collection. These prompted manufacturers to produce similar though less-expensive beaded and embroidered slippers that became a popular summer street fashion among young women in major fashion capitals. The most prominently photographed clothes for autumn were by Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana. Their rhinestone jewel-encrusted hip belts and Louis XIV-like collarless coats provoked numerous copies. Nineteenth-century–inspired corsets—made by Mr. Pearl, the London-based South African corsetier—became cult high-fashion items. Designers Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler, and Galliano all commissioned Pearl to make corsets for their collections.

      Pashmina shawls and cashmere sweaters were both increasingly worn by working women, despite their high prices. Women in New York who wore the expensive ($5,000–$10,000) shahtoosh shawls—lightweight yet superwarm garments made from the wool of the chiru, an endangered Tibetan antelope—received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury to disclose how they acquired them. (See Environment: Wildlife Conservation (Environment ).) Although animal rights activists continued to protest against the use of fur by fashion designers, animal skins such as pony skin and fur were used more prominently than ever before in both women's and men's autumn-winter '99 ready-to-wear collections.

      The price tags for denim designer jeans climbed to stratospheric proportions. Gucci's 1999 spring-summer collection included a pair of ripped, feathered, and beaded denims costing about $3,170. For autumn-winter, high-priced denims were launched by leading designers Stella McCartney for Chloe ($581), Louis Vuitton ($772), Kors ($623), Hussein Chalayan ($299), and Valentino ($1,411).

      Ironically, although denim's popularity was at an all-time high, including a craze for designer denim jackets that was sparked by Madonna's appearance in one for her video Ray of Light, sales for mainstream brands like Levi Strauss plummeted. As the result of an 11% decrease in European sales, Levi's was forced to lay off 5,900 workers. In only a year the company had lost sales of about $1,660,000,000. Cult labels worn by young people included Mudd, JNCO, and Evisu, a jeans line launched in the 1980s by a Japanese businessman who had bought the looms that made denim for Levi Strauss. Also providing competition was the market for combat trousers—made chic by the London label Maharishi—as well as chinos, khaki trousers made popular by the thriving casual fashion retail empires the Gap and Club Monaco. The latter was acquired from its Toronto-based president, Joseph Mimran, by Polo Ralph Lauren for $81.5 million.

      The increasing demand for functional clothing continued to demonstrate its relevance. Nike reported global sales of $8.8 billion and in July opened its biggest store in the world on London's Oxford Street. While in Paris, U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton shopped at JP Tod's, a store that featured comfortable moccasin loafers and large functional naturally coloured leather handbags.

      Forecasters predicted stratospheric sales for e-commerce (on-line shopping) ventures. It was reported that by 2003 the British on-line fashion retail market would be worth $66.4 billion. In the U.S., 95% of clothing retailers operated World Wide Web sites—a 55% increase from 1998. The most high-profile e-commerce launch was, which became one of the first user-friendly fashion Web sites, offering free membership, delivery, an exchange policy, and Boom, a fashion feature magazine.

      Other sectors of the fashion media experienced change as well. Condé Nast launched the Tokyo-based Japanese Vogue, and Katherine Betts, American Vogue's former fashion news editor, was appointed editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

▪ 1999

      Casual luxury dominated international designer fashion in 1998. The style was a mix of classic yet flattering American tailored sportswear, with an emphasis on separates—loose trousers, sweaters, and knee- and ankle-length skirts—and costly couture fabrics such as cashmere. Though the "maximalism" style of luxury featured during 1997 had given way to a more casual look, some elements remained popular, including the use of strong colours such as red, petrol blue, winter white, purple, and gray, which, for both women and men, succeeded in eradicating the dominance of the basic black wardrobe. Real fur, too, was prevalent on the autumn-winter runways and was used for coats, skirts, shirts, and trim on shoes, collars, and handbags. Some of the most popular accessories were opulent, notably Fendi's beaded shoulder bag, which became a sought-after status item. Choker necklaces with dripping beads—like those featured in the film Titanic and created by British designer John Galliano and Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens—were completely sold out at American department stores. Increasingly, however, luxurious fashions seemed incompatible with the lives of women, most of whom were not willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion. Economic downturns in Russian and Asia also signaled a drop in sales of luxury goods.

      Bernard Arnault—president and chairman of French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton—more than any designer, was the driving force behind fashion's new direction. In 1997 Arnault had appointed British designers Galliano and Alexander McQueen to head design at two LVMH fashion houses: Christian Dior and Givenchy, respectively. Their distinctly luxurious collections—including creations such as McQueen's razor-sharp tailored leather trouser suits and Galliano's lavish bias-cut lamé evening dresses—as well as their heavily stylized seasonal runway shows, continued to attract the attention and admiration of fashion critics and to create a stronger brand awareness worldwide.

      In the 1990s fashion's chief modernist, Austrian designer Helmut Lang, pioneered the casual luxury look with what British Vogue summed up as "simple pieces . . . so authentically 'of the street' and yet utterly classic." By spring Lang had moved his business from Vienna to New York City and continued to lead fashion's modern direction. For his autumn-winter show, he chose the Internet instead of the runway to present his collection of predominantly spare, functional winter-white separates.

      Meanwhile, Arnault's stable of new designers put their stamp on casual luxury with whimsical and lighthearted sartorial touches. Narciso Rodríguez at the Madrid-based leather house Loewe accessorized his own eponymous autumn-winter collection with cashmere Birkenstocks. For his first autumn-winter collection at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs broke with tradition. Instead of using the company's recognizable signature gold-stamped-on-brown-leather LV insignia, he created "invisible luxury"—clothes and handbags that, though discreet, matched luxury with current street style. He created drawstring jogging-style trousers; a black hooded, front-zipped sweatshirt wool jacket; and an LV-embossed white-on-white messenger bag.

      Singaporean designer Andrew Gn explained to Women's Wear Daily that "the idea of the season is to take something simple, like jeans, and make them in a great fabric like cashmere." His collection for the house of Balmain, as well as the work of both Belgian designer Martin Margiela (who debuted his first collection for the French luxury brand Hermès) and Cristina Oritz (who joined Lanvin after having served as design director for Prada), shared fashion's casual-luxury sensibility.

      Spring-summer designer fashion introduced fashion's new feeling of ease. American Vogue described Belgian designer Anne Demeulemeester's "shrugged-on" style of jacket as "effortlessness." The best looks, however, presented on the runway and then copied by retailers around the world, were casual, feminine, and uncomplicated—like Capri pants ('50s-style pedal pushers), the pleated knee-length skirt, and the slide (a flat, open-toed shoe). The star of London Fashion Week was British designer Matthew Williamson, whose slip and sheath dresses appealed to the critics for their simple cut and bright colours, such as shocking pink and turquoise. Diane Von Fürstenberg's wrap dress, which had originally been introduced in 1973 and was reintroduced during the New York spring-summer collections, was sought after for the same reasons.

      A more frivolous look was "hippie chic," a luxurious take on ethnic-inspired clothes. The style proved to be such a strong theme for summer that it reappeared on select autumn-winter runways as the bohemian look. The Italian labels Marni and Etro led the way at the spring-summer Milan collections, with drawstring trousers, sarongs, and collarless shirts made of bright ethnic-print fabrics such as linen, embroidered suede, and silk. American designer Anna Sui also captured the look with a spring-summer collection of print dresses, bandanna bikinis, and Liberty print sundresses, inspired, she claimed, by a "Tibetan surfer."

      Meanwhile, a strong unisex trend among young urbanites was a casual look that American Vogue called "utility chic," the wearing of clothing originally designed for sports or to combat weather conditions on the street. At the forefront of the style was Vexed Generation, a London-based design duo of former music producers who created what they called "protective day wear," including fleece jackets with high zip-up collars and jumpsuits made from Kevlar, a bulletproof fabric. Its most popular style was a messenger bag that, when slung over the shoulder, could be fastened with Velcro. Other popular utility-chic staples included Patagonia-style fleece jackets, Nike Air Max and New Balance trainers, and G-shock watches, colourful, indestructible digital watches designed by Kikuo Ibe in Japan for Casio.

      High fashion also responded to the utility-chic trend. For autumn-winter several menswear designers, including Dolce & Gabbana and Gianfranco Ferre, incorporated a range of sportswear into their menswear collections. Miuccia Prada introduced functional elements to her autumn-winter menswear collection, adding such features as Velcro fastenings to shoes, formal suits, shirts, and cashmere coats. Prada also debuted for autumn-winter a "red stripe" collection, a complete athletic line that included the high-performance fabrics Gore-Tex and CoolMax lining.

      The feeling of ease infiltrated other aspects of the fashion industry. The modeling industry and the fashion media advocated a stronger sense of individuality. On the runway and in magazines, the perfectly groomed blonde, blue-eyed models were eclipsed by a new generation of young women who shared a stereotypical exotic look. They had wide dusky eyes, olive skin, shapely figures, and full manes of long, dark hair. Emerging retail trends also pointed to a growing sense of individuality. Though such corporations as Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren opened huge retail superstores, a growing number of women were drawn to a selection of female-owned boutiques like the Cross in London, Phare in New York City, and Colette in Paris. Instead of selling just one fashion label, these shops were set up like fashionable bazaars, offering eclectic merchandise, including high fashion and comfortable clothes, household goods, books, art, beauty products, and gift items.

      Away from the catwalk, people seemed to share a relaxed attitude toward dressing. Former supermodel Cindy Crawford wore a simple short white slip dress and was barefoot when she wed Rande Gerber on a California beach. At the Academy Awards ceremony—the place where luxury dressing came to life every year—female celebrities opted for looks that were formal yet simple. Helen Hunt (see BIOGRAPHIES (Hunt, Helen ))wore a custom-made long ice-blue Gucci dress. Though it was strapless, Hunt left her shoulders and neck unadorned. Young women in the U.K. identified less with such past fashion icons as Diana, princess of Wales, and Carolyn Bessett Kennedy and more with Bridget Jones, the fictional chain-smoking, attractive-yet-disheveled 30-something single female character from British writer Helen Fielding's best-selling novel Bridget Jones's Diary, whereas teenage girls in the U.S. copied the look of All Saints, a British all-girl multiracial pop group who, for onstage performances, favoured loose baggy jeans and athletic clothing like T-shirts, sweatshirts, and trainers.

      Men's fashion produced relaxed looks through spring-summer and into autumn-winter. Labels Comme des Garcons and DKNY designed the casual men's mule, which was best described by the British men's magazine Arena Homme Plus as "slipper like soft (leather) shoes that, by willfully crushing the back, can be made to look like mules."

      For summer suiting Giorgio Armani introduced the work-wear suit, featuring ideas from work clothes—exposed stitching, patch pockets, and concealed buttons on jackets. Designer denim appeared in several collections, including one by Gucci and Helmut Lang. For autumn-winter the fitted menswear cut gave way to more generous proportions and a longer, looser silhouette for suits and coats. Dolce & Gabbana, Raf Simons, Donna Karan, and Armani introduced '30s-style wide-leg trousers. Designers who focused on casual luxury for women also integrated that theme into autumn-winter menswear. Calvin Klein used ultralight leather for shirts and pullover tops and described his menswear as "wearable luxury." Tom Ford introduced fine-gauge and four-ply cashmere sweaters into his autumn-winter collection for Gucci. During the year Yves Saint Laurent (see BIOGRAPHIES (Saint Laurent, Yves )) celebrated 40 years as a designer, and designer Isaac Mizrahi left the business after Chanel terminated its partnership with him.


▪ 1998

      Two opposing themes dominated women's fashion in 1997—minimalism and luxury. Though both styles had served as constant reference points in the '90s, they found new meaning during 1997. Minimalism broadened its definition from a wardrobe based on functionality to include a new sense of sophisticated simplicity. This new form of minimalism became the style preferred by most women, but haute couture's luxurious appeal became fashion's fantasy point.

      Couture also found a new sense of energy. Excessively opulent, exotic, and expensive couture designs filled magazine pages as never before. French Vogue called the effect "Le Big Bang." It was couture's revitalized approach that carved luxury's new meaning, and designer Christian Lacroix playfully called it "maximalism."

      Austrian designer Helmut Lang's seasonal collections of white and off-white severely tailored separates—for both spring-summer and autumn-winter—exemplified the new approach to minimalism, as did the ensembles worn by Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. The former public-relations officer for designer Calvin Klein had favoured her former employer's pared-down approach to dressing until she married John Kennedy, Jr., and adopted a more individualistic style. She made public appearances in monochromatic ensembles made by other designers, including a Yohji Yamamoto skirt suit, casual clothes by Prada, and classic stilettos by Manolo Blahnik. Her well-groomed appearance—including perfectly applied red lipstick and a long, well-kept mane of shiny-blonde hair—made her simple style look sleek. British Vogue included Bessette-Kennedy, along with actress Gwyneth Paltrow and photographer Kelly Klein, as a part of fashion's new "Clean team"—women who always looked so good that they could "turn a white shirt and a pair of [immaculate] black trousers into a style statement." Some women found this approach to minimalism inspirational, whereas others looked to haute couture designs—and the celebrities that wore them—for entertainment.

      The spring-summer 1997 couture collections—staged in Paris in January—showcased the debut of new British designers at formerly conservative fashion houses: John Galliano at Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen at Givenchy, and Lady Amanda Harlech, a former protégé of Galliano's who became Karl Lagerfeld's collaborator at Chanel. Such other designers as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Adeline Andre, and Dominique Sirop also premiered their first couture collections. Some shows disappointed the critics—particularly McQueen's Givenchy collection of white-and-gold designs, which were irreverently accessorized with nose rings.

      After years of producing clothing for an aging and dwindling client base, as well as reporting that couture was a money-losing venture, young designers found a new clientele: Hollywood celebrities such as Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman. Most designers followed the lead of the late Gianni Versace (see OBITUARIES (Versace, Gianni )), inviting actors to attend their shows as well as to wear their creations at such high-profile events as the Academy Awards and the Cannes Film Festival. Meanwhile, established names like Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Balmain reported that their couture sales had doubled. The auction house Sotheby's was so convinced of haute couture's marketability and relevance that in February it opened a fashion department that would sell those fashions.

      Critics claimed that after years of lagging behind the trendsetting ready-to-wear designs, couture was now setting the pace for fashion. Particularly influential was Galliano's spring-summer Dior couture, which featured several trends coexisting cohesively, including miniskirts, amply tailored trouser suits, 1920s vintage beaded dresses, and feather- and mink-trimmed clothing and accessories. These ideas later became major focal points of other autumn-winter ready-to-wear designs. Meanwhile, Dior's tribal theme, which borrowed traditional African and Asian styles such as Masai-inspired beaded accessories and Chinese embroidery, strengthened the focus on ethnic styles.

      With her Asian-inspired spring-summer collection—featuring cheongsams and chunky, Chinese-inspired footwear—Miuccia Prada became the initial purveyor of chinoiserie. Other factors also strengthened the Asian appeal, including the cult status achieved by the London boutique Voyage (whose gemstone-coloured velvet designs became a favourite of models and celebrities), theme parties for Britain's Hong Kong handover in July, and the low cost of assembling an authentic look at a "Chinatown" shop. By summer a look American Vogue dubbed "ethnic chic" had become a major street trend.

      Fashion's African inspiration focused more on black models than on clothing design. Black African models became fashion's most prominent faces. (The sole exception was model Karen Elson, who with a messy "bad bob" haircut rose to fame, replacing Stella Tennant as the face of Chanel's advertising campaign.) Ralph Lauren chose British model Naomi Campbell to front his Masai-inspired summer ad campaign, while Somalian-born model Iman appeared in Donna Karan's ads. Vogue Italia's July issue included a 16-page couture photo-essay featuring only black models. Among the seven models showcased were Sudanese-born, British-based Alek Wek, whose shapely 1.8-m (6-ft) frame made her a favourite in major fashion editorials, and Ugandan-born Kiara Kabukuru, who grew up in Los Angeles and became the first nonwhite model in three years to appear on the cover of American Vogue. Surprisingly, the New York Times fashion editor Amy Spindler attacked American Vogue—as well as several other fashion publications and designers—for fetishizing black women. Fashion, Spindler claimed, "is once again using people simply as props—one more passing trend."

      Fashion's exploitative nature had come under fire in the spring when U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton spoke out against the popularity of "heroin chic." Though the grunge-inspired look had been popular in 1996 and was not a major theme for fashion collections in 1997, Clinton's comments followed the heroin overdose and death in February of 20-year-old New York photographer Davide Sorrenti. Shortly after Sorrenti's death, his mother, Francesca Sorrenti, also a fashion photographer, spoke out against the growing use of heroin by young people (models and aspiring photographers) involved in the fashion industry. Soon to follow were editorials in fashion magazines addressing Sorrenti's cause as well as fashion stories focusing on more positive fashion themes like body-conscious clothing (leggings and miniskirts), athletic gear, and feminine lingerie-inspired dresses.

      Negative issues, however, were overshadowed by fashion's positive mood. At the autumn-winter shows, a palate of rich colours like plum, charcoal, olive, and wine replaced black, fashion's perennial shade. Although most designers did not look back for inspiration, there were traces of retro. Designer Randolph Duke presented a collection for Halston, the newly revived 1970s fashion house, and the spring-summer menswear shows sported traces of a '70s lounge-singer flashiness. The look for men, however, was inspired more by the sartorial feel of the 1996 independent film Swingers.

      Elements of 1980s fashion also emerged with the autumn-winter collections. Gucci revived the black leather suit and high stiletto shoes, and designers in every fashion capital produced sharply tailored trouser and short skirt suits. Some featured jackets with shoulder pads, but rather than replicating the harsh cuts of the '80s "power suit" look, the proportions were softly feminine, roomier, and less structured.

      As autumn-winter ready-to-wear styles mimicked ideas from the spring-summer couture collections, it became obvious that trends were not emerging as fast as in previous years. Another group of young designers, however, had moved to more prominent positions, and this made fashion's forecast for original inspiration hopeful. Bernard Arnault (see ) (Arnault, Bernard ), the chairman of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, appointed New York designer Marc Jacobs artistic director of the French luxury leather-goods house Louis Vuitton. Former Cerrutti designer Narciso Rodriguez assumed the role of women's ready-to-wear designer at the Madrid-based leather house Loewe. Independent British designer Stella McCartney (daughter of musician Sir Paul McCartney) closed her eponymous London fashion label and replaced Karl Lagerfeld at the Paris fashion house Chloé. Meanwhile, after several years of being a minor fashion capital, London reemerged as the world's major style centre. Innovative young London-based designers like husband-and-wife duo Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro (Clements Ribeiro) and knitwear designers Julien MacDonald and Lainey Keogh made London Fashion Week a major media event. The growing worldwide fame of highly stylized British pop groups such as Oasis, Blur, and the Spice Girls (see BIOGRAPHIES) (Spice Girls ) added to what Women's Wear Daily called the "London boom."

      British fashion was also the main force in menswear. Italian designers Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giorgio Armani (see BIOGRAPHIES (Armani, Giorgio )) produced autumn-winter menswear collections featuring suits of more ample proportions and traces of classic trademarks of Englishmen's suiting, such as conservative cuts, tweed, and gray flannel. British-made shoes such as Chelsea boots, wing tips, and monkstraps made by London shoemaker John Lobb were popular autumn-winter accessories. More talked-about than the styles seen on the international menswear runways were the custom-made suits designed by a new generation of young British tailors, including Timothy Everest, who created Tom Cruise's wardrobe for Mission: Impossible. Though their work was timeless and unadorned in the tradition of London's Savile Row, the suits featured unconventional elements like a colour spectrum including pastels and vibrants, as well as such fabrics as velvets and bold tweeds.


▪ 1997

      The spring-summer 1996 international women's ready-to-wear collections were marked by the absence of a singular definitive look. Designers in London, Paris, Milan, and New York presented a number of options, including bright colours, particularly orange and lime green, and bold-patterned clothes. Designer Tom Ford produced what was christened "hippie chic" for the Italian fashion house Gucci. The style featured lace and velvet caftans and was reportedly inspired by the 1960s socialite Talitha Getty. Most talked-about were two wardrobe alternatives: a casual, wearable style that the press called "no-fuss chic" and a more frivolous look that came to be known as "good taste/bad taste."

      No-fuss chic took a simple approach to dressing. It was based on a wardrobe of neat, interchangeable separates: a pair of tailored trousers shown with or without a matching jacket, a crisp white shirt, or a sleek sweater cut close to the body, and stylish yet sensible shoes—either flats or footwear with "block" heels. Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel showed the look best, sending models onto the runway in a casual mix-and-match ensemble: loosely cut pastel tweed Chanel jackets, cotton piqué shirts, and chinos.

      Meanwhile, good taste/bad taste featured the mixing of fashion elements. Sharply tailored items like skirts and trousers were cut from cheap functional fabrics such as polyester, and textiles were printed with odd, clashing patterns in off colours—bile green, purple, brown, and cream. Such clothes were shown mostly by such young designers as Jean Colonna, Anna Sui, and Gianni Versace's sister Donatella. Miuccia Prada, the foremost purveyor of the style, produced a collection of "geek" prints that fell flat and confused usually complimentary critics. Her new designs were in sharp contrast to those of previous seasons: subtle, tailored clothes often cut from couture fabrics.

      At the international men's collection, the spring-summer styles were decidedly toned down following a year of hit-and-miss flamboyance. Men adopted styles to suit their own lives and occupations, which made the designer-dictated wardrobe obsolete.

      For the night of the Academy Award presentations, U.S. actress Sharon Stone, a symbol of Hollywood glamour followed the men's lead. She rejected ensembles offered to her by Valentino and Vera Wang, two prominent fashion designers. Instead, Stone opted for a mix of her own clothes: a Gap black turtleneck, a floor-length Armani evening coat, and a pair of diamond earrings. Meanwhile, 21-year old model-actress Chloe Sevigny, the star of Larry Clark's Kids and the model for Prada's diffusion line Miu Miu, explained the hip ideal for young people to London's Evening Standard newspaper. "Just day to day," she said, "I'm trying to be antifashionable."

      Fashion, it seemed, was out of fashion. After years of offering a form of mass entertainment, the industry suffered from a wave of negative publicity. Clothes shopping was no longer a diversion in the U.S., where corporate downsizing coupled with a loss of interest in fashion among baby boomers depressed the apparel industry.

      Other sectors of the industry were plagued by a series of setbacks and scandals. Terrorist bombings in Paris and the necessary security checks at the spring-summer pret-a-porter collections caused a general feeling of unease among those in attendance. Then, in early winter, a series of general strikes hit France, threatening to delay production involved in the spring-summer couture collections that were presented in January.

      In New York City in January, Barneys, the high-fashion chain of stores run by the Pressman family, sought protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Barneys had been a fashion leader in the U.S. during the 1980s, with an innovative approach to advertising, merchandising, and the creation of stylish shop interiors. Problems also beset the New York-based Council of Fashion Designers of America, which had organized the staging of fashion collections held biannually at tent shows in Manhattan's Bryant Park. A few weeks before the autumn-winter collections were set to debut, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan backed out without notice or much explanation, announcing that they would show their work in more "intimate" venues. Such high-profile designers as Joan Vass, Badgely Mischka, Todd Oldham, and Ghost followed them. Some claimed that the cost of producing a tent-sized show was too high (an estimated $100,000 for an hour-long presentation) and that the presence of lower-priced apparel lines diminished the feeling of exclusivity. The general consensus was that the circuslike atmosphere created by staging fashion shows in large venues such as tents and even in the Carrousel du Louvre, a Paris structure that was expressly built for that purpose but was rejected by most French designers for their autumn-winter shows and couture collections, no longer suited the more minimal, less overtly glamorous spirit of fashion.

      In the spring the fashion media were involved in two scandals. Supermodel Naomi Campbell was reportedly "highly insulted" and unhappy with the representation given black models after the editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, relocated Campbell's cover photo to the inside fold and featured white model Nikki Taylor on the cover instead. In its assessment of the situation, The Times (London) reported that sales figures had been known to drop when a black model was featured on the cover of a women's fashion magazine.

      In London controversy erupted after pictures of the very thin, partially exposed form of model Trish Goff appeared in the June issue of British Vogue. In response the Omega Watch Corp., a major source of Vogue's advertising revenues, announced that it would stop placing ads in the magazine, claiming that officials were angered by the "anorexic proportions" of the "skeletal models" featured in the magazine. Though Omega retreated from its stance one week after the scandal went public, the incident highlighted the emaciated images that were often presented to the public.

      The womanly proportions of the '80s supermodel had by 1996 disappeared from fashion's spotlight. In September German model Claudia Schiffer announced her retirement. Now popular on the autumn-winter runways were models the New York Times summed up as "skinny, white, young, and devoid of personality." They suited "heroin chic," the glamorous junkie look that proved popular with stylists and makeup artists who put together the autumn-winter shows for Vivienne Westwood, Helmut Lang, and Ann Demeulemeester, among others. Reportedly inspired by the drug culture, on view in the film Trainspotting and the Broadway musical Rent, this style raised questions about drug habits among models and further highlighted the turbulence within the industry.

      Innovation was hard to find at the autumn-winter ready-to-wear and couture collections. Karl Lagerfeld had revived black lycra leggings, a fashion element that most critics had hoped women left behind with the '80s. Meanwhile, the dominant trend among most designers of ready-to-wear was a '70s style: a long lean silhouette, featuring maxicoats, long skirts, knee-high boots, and a slimmer variation of bell bottoms, known now as boot-cut trousers. Rich colours such as plum, chocolate, and navy replaced basic black. Also shown were military looks, ranging from drab olive green trousers and sophisticated tailored jackets featuring epaulets and gold accessories to androgynous tailored trouser suits, styles that belonged to previous seasons.

      The '70s also became a dominant theme in autumn-winter men's collections, as symbolized by such sartorial statements as fur- and faux fur-trimmed coats, jackets with sharply emphasized shoulders or those with wide lapels, and boot-cut trousers. More important was a distinct move away from loose, unconstructed clothes. Tailoring made a return, and tapering, which made garments and suiting slimmer fitting, was introduced. Particularly influential on the men's front was the U.S. designer Ralph Lauren, whose two lines—Purple Label and Blue Label—featured tailored one-button and double-breasted suits worn with solid-coloured ties and white shirts.

      Midyear, fashion mourned the loss of two trendsetters. The U.S.-born, Paris-based model Wallis Franken, the muse and wife of French fashion designer Claude Montana, was found dead outside her Paris apartment, apparently a suicide. In August British designer Ossie Clark (see OBITUARIES (Clark, Raymond )) was found murdered in his apartment in London. His lover, Diego Cogolato, was later arrested and charged with murder. Though living close to the poverty line at the time of his death, Clark had been one of the most influential British designers of the late '60s. He had dressed Mick and Bianca Jagger and designed the clothes for the film Bonnie and Clyde, among other projects.

      Despite the bleak outlook, there was reason to celebrate. The year 1996 marked both the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Louis Reard's bikini and the 30th anniversary of Yves Saint Laurent's "le smoking," a classic tailored tuxedo pantsuit for women.

      British fashion scored a triple coup. The London-educated designer John Galliano (see BIOGRAPHIES (Galliano, John Charles )) assumed the role of designer in chief at the French fashion house Givenchy in January before replacing Gianfranco Ferre as designer in chief of couture and ready-to-wear at Christian Dior in October. (Both fashion houses were owned by the French company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.) Meanwhile, the London-based avant-garde designer Alexander McQueen replaced Galliano at Givenchy and was later named British Fashion Designer of the Year. His "bumsters," trousers that revealed the top half of the buttocks, helped revive the long, lean silhouette that proved successful for many designers. British model Stella Tennant became "the official face of Chanel." (BRONWYN COSGRAVE)

      See also Apparel (Business and Industry Review ).

      This article updates dress.

▪ 1996

      Conservative chic—the new look for women in 1995—was a pretty, elegant, and feminine style that featured simply tailored yet luxurious clothes. The dressed-up glamour look of 1994 was still popular but with a significant change—a new emphasis on refinement.

      At the Paris spring/summer haute couture shows, models parading down nearly every catwalk appeared in clothes reminiscent of those worn by such style icons of the 1950s and early '60s as actress Audrey Hepburn, model Suzy Parker, Princess Grace Kelly, and U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Models Kristen McMenamy and Kate Moss, former grunge torchbearers, looked groomed and metamorphosed in the ubiquitous look—a fitted, figure-hugging suit matched with such accessories as satin gloves, small earrings, a cabochon brooch, and a clutch purse. The deep red lipstick of 1994 was replaced by a shade of coral.

      Though some viewed conservative chic as a reaction to a political shift to the right in the West, the new mood was more a reflection of a change within the industry. For the first time in three decades, haute couture (the very costly custom-made designs shown twice yearly in Paris) became the barometer of fashion change. Traditionally, styles worn on the street were the work of ready-to-wear designers.

      A renewed interest in the craft of couture accompanied the big news of the year—Hubert de Givenchy's retirement after 43 years as designer in chief of his eponymous Paris fashion house. Givenchy's replacement, announced in July, was the 35-year-old Paris-based British designer John Galliano. His designs, mainly favoured by young women, would presumably attract a younger clientele to haute couture, traditionally patronized by older women.

      Even before Galliano's appointment, haute couture fashions were worn by young high-profile women. At the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, actress Uma Thurman wore a long lavender gown fashioned by Prada, the Milanese design house. Viscountess Linley appeared at Ascot in a lace dress made by French designer Hervé Léger. In New York City, British actress Elizabeth Hurley wore a simple yellow Gianni Versace fitted couture suit to the ceremony at which she accepted the contract to represent Estée Lauder cosmetics. For the July 1 wedding in London of Marie-Chantal Miller and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Valentino made 62 outfits for the wedding party, including the bridal gown.

      At the international shows it was clear that many designers had run out of original ideas after they delivered a chaotic series of ready-to-wear designs for spring/summer 1995. Though sharply tailored clothes could be found on runways in every fashion capital, refined, feminine looks were overpowered by gimmicky fads—not fashion. The glamour of the '70s, an inspiration for autumn/winter 1994, was still a popular theme in Milan, where Bianca Jagger-style tuxedo suits, tube tops, and tight trousers appeared. Mariuccia Mandelli, the designer behind the Krizia line, celebrated 40 years in fashion by reviving the hot pants (short shorts) that she had made fashionable in the early '70s. Giorgio Armani in Milan and Valentino in Paris also reinvented them.

      Other retro influences included knee-length skirts and flimsy floral mid-calf-length tea dresses from the '40s. The design duo Dolce & Gabbana revived underwear as outerwear, pairing pencil skirts with bustiers. Also prominent was the corset, which appeared underneath sheer organza blouses as an evening look. Its structured shape also provided the basis for jackets and evening dresses.

      In Paris a record 81 international designers unveiled spring/summer collections, which resulted in fashion confusion. Retro styles—borrowed from every decade of the 20th century—mixed with elements of '70s glamour and bizarre manifestations of classic tailoring. Jean-Paul Gaultier mixed denim with early 20th-century tailoring, producing a Pygmalion-styled full-length frilled skirt and fitted jacket. Rifat Ozbek designed a neck corset in rhinestones. Underneath Vivienne Westwood's knee-length wool and piqué cotton skirts were metal "bum cages," her reinterpretation of the Victorian bustle. A number of designers in New York and Paris experimented with futuristic themes. Prada delivered such accessories as a clear-plastic purse in the shape of a shopping bag and shoes with high heels made from Perspex, both reminiscent of the space-age styles introduced by André Courrèges in the late '60s. The London-based Canadian-born shoe designer Patrick Cox reintroduced jellies—inexpensive, clear-plastic sandals popular in the early '80s—adding high heels and glitter effects.

      Expanding on this theme, designers shaped traditional styles such as pantsuits and evening dresses from such high-tech and synthetic fabrics as plastic, laminates, Lurex, and vinyl. Donna Karan made a prom dress from olefin-treated paper (the same material used for FedEx envelopes), and Jil Sander used silk as lining for an iridescent nylon pantsuit.

      The international men's wear spring/summer collections delivered a range of upbeat but unorthodox clothes, with an emphasis on colour and texture. Casual looks such as trousers, sweaters, and jean jackets were made from satin, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and terry cloth. Pastel shades—powder blue, candy floss pink, and light yellow—appeared alongside stronger colours—red, blue, and lemon yellow. Slim suits were cut from an iridescent fabric known as two-tone. Such designers as Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Gaultier, and Dries van Noten produced the boxer-style zoot suit, which complemented the '40s revival in women's wear, with its six-button double-breasted jacket.

      A general lack of consumer confidence in the West combined with news that women were losing all interest in fashion, especially European women who disliked such elements of glamour as high heels and accessories, cast a scare throughout the industry. Though Clueless, a film about a crew of clothes-crazy Beverly Hills, Calif., teenage girls, was viewed as a sign that young people cared about high-fashion designs, Women's Wear Daily reported that U.S. teenagers were buying basics: overalls, flannel shirts, and backpacks. Shops selling such items—the Gap, Urban Outfitters, and Eddie Bauer—were quite popular among young people.

      As spring arrived, U.S. department stores reported a slump in the sale of dresses, due to both the cool weather and the new knee-length skirt, which was unpopular. Fortune claimed that a lack of strong, saleable fashion ideas had hurt retailers such as the Limited and Broadway. Department stores Bloomingdale's and Bergdorf Goodman reported that the sartorial elements of glamour—satin clothes, knee-length slip skirts, corset jackets, and patent leather accessories—intimidated female customers. Prada, controlled by Miuccia Prada and known as "the Gap for the superrich," was the choice for high-spending customers, both men and women. Prada was the first designer to use Pocono nylon (the material of military tents) to make such fashion items as handbags, trench coats, and knee-length skirts. Designers Donna Karan and Calvin Klein also used nylon.

      Prada, proclaiming that "dressing truly bad is an exclusive art," presented a collection that flew in the face of high-fashion glamour. Idiosyncratic elements of style—that could be labeled "bad taste"—were prominent on Prada's seasonal runways: plastic handbags, white leather shoes for winter, and colour combinations of orange and brown. Her look proved popular; fashion magazines depicted high-profile actors, models, fashion editors, and photographers wearing the company's sharply tailored, stark styles adorned with Prada accessories. Prada's expansion throughout the year also reflected its popularity. The company reported a net worth of $210 million.

      At the autumn/winter men's collection, fashion's mood of frivolity showed no sign of abating. Decadent styles, deemed downright camp by many fashion critics, dominated runways in Milan, Florence, and Paris. Billowing shirts, big dark "Jackie O." sunglasses, floral silk head scarves knotted at the neck, and frilly shirts were the feminine influences designers felt were right for the '90s man.

      The focus changed during the international women's ready-to-wear shows for autumn/winter '95. Model Claudia Schiffer appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a fitted off-white Versace skirt suit, displaying the "simply beautiful classics" designers had produced.

      Fashion's autumn/winter ready-to-wear designs were sensible and uncomplicated and followed the sober mood of the haute couture shows. The fitted skirt suit reappeared alongside the "boxy suit," an equally slim but squarely tailored style. Both were more popular than pantsuits.

      Winter coats and suits appeared in strong shades of camel, red, and navy, as well as tones of lavender and burnt orange. The designers that had experimented with high-tech fabrics just a season before opted for the pure, classic materials couturiers favoured—cashmere, taffeta, gazar, radzimir, and Harris Tweed. The stiletto, the shoe of 1994, was replaced by a demure low, slim heel—a copy of the look Audrey Hepburn wore in the 1954 film Sabrina. A Breakfast at Tiffany's-style cocktail dress, made in light shades of satin and basic black, was the option for evening.

      In Milan and New York, mod was the inspiration for designers who copied the neat, clean style of dressing popularized by British middle-class youth during the '60s. Authentic mod looks such as hipster belts, mid-calf go-go boots, checkerboard prints, collarless coats, and narrow-tailored pantsuits were introduced by Gucci, Prada, and Marc Jacobs, as well as by Istante and CK, the diffusion lines produced by Versace and Calvin Klein, respectively. The hairdresser Garren cut Linda Evangelista's hair into a shape similar to the five-point geometric bob, a haircut originated in 1964 by Vidal Sassoon.

      Leather, once reserved for hard-edged clothes worn by motorcyclists, became a mainstay of the new mod wardrobe. Leather appeared in gentle colours—snow white and matte black—and soft cuts. Anna Sui made black leather cocktail dresses and white leather collarless coats. Helmut Lang created sexy belted trench coats from leather, and Karan produced them for her DKNY line.

      Early reports on the sale of refined clothes were positive. Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue both reported that sales of designer fashions were up from the previous year.

      The conservative mood stymied Calvin Klein's ad campaign for his signature line of jeans. He and photographer Steven Meisel had devised a print and television ad campaign that featured young male and female models (some nonprofessional) posing in suggestive positions. In August—under pressure from retailers, TV stations, and watchdog groups—Klein withdrew the campaign.

      Maurizio Gucci—grandnephew of Guccio Gucci, the founder of the Italian fashion house of that name—was assassinated in Milan by an unknown gunman. He was the last family member to work for Gucci before Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment group, purchased it in 1993. Maurizio's cousin Paolo died in October, leaving a tangled estate. He had left the family firm in 1987 and declared bankruptcy. The deaths underscored the financial difficulties this once family-run business had faced.


      See also Apparel (Business and Industry Review ).

      This updates the article dress.

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