Year in Review: Top 10 Fashion Stories of 2021
In the midst of the ever-evolving pandemic, a lot happened in 2021. From the jubilant return of some of our favorite in-person events to the statement-making outfit Kamala Harris wore at her historic inauguration to the devastating losses of some of fashion’s biggest talents. So now it’s time to look back at all of the top 2021 fashion stories that had us feeling all the feels this year.
Rewinding to January, Harris made history when she was sworn in as the first black, first asian and first woman vice president. She continued her trend of wearing black designers sporting a regal-looking purple coat and dress from Christopher John Rogers.
With recommendations for in-person gatherings shifting almost by the minute in New York City, we weren’t sure what New York Fashion Week or the Met Gala would look like this year. Both returned with a bang in September gifting us a momentary sense of normalcy in an uncertain world.
Other headlines include Fashion Month Spring 2022 being the most racially diverse season ever. Two of the biggest brands (namely Fendi and Versace) swapping creative directors for a memorable moment in Milan. Plus, the asian fashion community rallying to #StopAsianHate in the wake of increased violence during the pandemic.
Read on to see the top 2021 fashion stories that still have us talking.
Kamala Harris' Inauguration Outfit Sends a Message
For her historic inauguration in January, Kamala Harris chose a purple coat and dress from designer Christopher John Rogers, which she adorned with a David Yurman American flag pin. The purple hue symbolized unity since it’s a combination of red and blue, the two colors that represent America’s major political parties. Purple was also a nod to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress who ran for president in 1972.
Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Unfortunately, there was a rise in anti-asian sentiment and violence against the AAPI community during the pandemic. Phillip Lim, Eva Chen, Michelle Lee and Tina Craig were among those using their platforms to spread awareness and share resources to #StopAsianHate. Their efforts helped raise millions of dollars for AAPI grassroots organizations.
Image: MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images
Kerby Jean-Raymond Makes History
Back in 2020, there was a spotlight on racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement. This year saw ripple effects in the fashion industry with more diverse model castings across fashion weeks and an uptick in diversity on magazine covers. What’s more, Pyer Moss founder Kerby Jean-Raymond made history as the first black American fashion designer to show at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. His debut haute couture collection paid homage to black inventions, including hot rollers, chess boards and refrigerators.
Image: Cindy Ord/WireImage/Getty Images
New York Fashion Week Makes a Glorious Return
In September, New York Fashion Week returned for the first mostly in-person fashion week since the beginning of the pandemic. The vibe at the Spring 2022 shows was joyful, even if there was an underlying unease at gathering in a large group after being isolated for so long. Many designers made nods to New York City in their shows. Peter Do held his debut show at a drive-in in Brooklyn, while LaQuan Smith hosted his runway show on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.
The Met Gala Celebrates American Designers
Like New York Fashion Week, the Met Gala returned in September as an in-person event. The theme of this year’s gala was "America: A Lexicon of Fashion." Fittingly, many stars wore American designers. Jennifer Lopez stunned in a 70s-inspired Ralph Lauren Collection number, Kate Hudson was pretty in a pink Michael Kors Collection frock and Amanda Gorman wowed in a royal blue custom Vera Wang gown.
Image: Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Fendi and Versace Team Up
One of the most exciting moments from Milan Fashion Week was the Versace and Fendi collaboration that closed out the Spring 2022 shows in Italy. The two fashion houses swapped creative directors with Donatella Versace designing a collection for Fendi and Kim Jones creating one for Versace. As if that wasn’t enough, models included Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Gigi Hadid.
Fashion Goes Meta
One of the biggest stories to come out of 2021 was Facebook’s rebranding to Meta in October. The company claims the "metaverse" will allow people to "socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine." The metaverse includes things like virtual reality, augmented reality and smart glasses. Some brands have already started expanding into the metaverse via virtual stores, digital events and gaming. Fashion’s foray into the metaverse will likely only increase in 2022.
Image: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
Spring 2022 Was the Most Racially Diverse Season Ever
The return of in-person runway shows thankfully brought with it an uptick in model diversity. As we reported in October, Spring 2022 made history as the most racially diverse season on record with 48 percent of castings going to models of color. An almost five-point increase from the previous season. Here’s hoping this upward trend in diversity continues next season.
Daniel Lee Leaves Bottega Veneta
We were shocked when Bottega Veneta announced it was parting ways with creative director Daniel Lee in November, especially since the news came just weeks after his latest collection. Lee is credited with injecting the brand with a much-needed dose of contemporary coolness. Shortly after the surprising announcement, we learned Lee would be replaced by Matthieu Blazy, who already served as design director of the brand. It’s still unclear what led to Lee’s departure.
In November, Virgil Abloh, the 41-year-old founder and designer of Off-White and director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, died after a private two-year battle with cancer. Abloh was a legend in the making. Not only did he bring streetwear to the mainstream, he was one of the first black designers to take the reins of a major fashion house. Other notable losses include famed Tiffany & Co. jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who died at age 80, and legendary Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, who died unexpectedly at age 59 from Covid-19.