Whether you're counting hits or misses, 2014 certainly left a mark fashion-wise. From the runways to the red carpets to the slopes of Sochi, it was an endless parade of see-through dresses, ugly Olympic sweaters, cool cats in extra-large hats and just about one of everything wearable in between. So, before we turn the page to see what the new year has to offer, it's worth a quick glance in the rearview mirror at some of the fun, the fantastic and the failures that were the year in fashion.
The fashion runway served up no shortage of memorable moments. Chanel built a grocery store (complete with branded hams) to showcase its fall/winter 2014/2015 wares and staged a sign-waving protest for women's rights to showcase the spring 2015 collection. Jean Paul Gaultier, king of the cone bra, retired from the ready-to-wear runway after 32 years with an extravaganza that included a beauty queen contest, lucha libre wrestlers and a flurry of catwalk confetti. Rodarte showed it was one with the fashion Force by creating a quartet of "Star Wars"-themed gowns.
The runway's revolving door churned out more couplings, uncouplings and exits than sweeps week at a soap opera. Nicolas Ghesquière made his runway debut as the new designer at Louis Vuitton, and Jeremy Scott took the reins at Moschino — where he promptly showed a fast food meets fast fashion send-up with a McDonald's-themed collection. This was the year we saw Alexander Wang take up with H&M, Toms Shoes team with Target, and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's baby North West make her Paris Fashion Week debut. (When NW gets older, she'll be happy to know her mom's bare derriere — on the cover of Paper magazine — did not, in fact, break the Internet.)
Some serious style stalwarts took their final final bows, among them Oscar de la Renta, the last of America's gentleman designers who died in October, and comedian-fashion commentator Joan Rivers, whose death in September took a piece of fashion cultural history (and a chip of our funny bone) with her.
At times, the various concert stages of 2014 started to feel like extensions of the high-fashion runway: Clothes stole the show on Jay Z and Beyoncé's On the Run tour, with sexy costumes by Versace and Givenchy for Bey.
Style-wise, the awards show red carpet circuit was the gift that kept on giving. Rihanna underdressed to impress, choosing to bare her breasts via a see-through Swarovski-crystal-covered Adam Selman dress at the CFDA Awards, ironically wearing as little clothing as legally possible to an event celebrating clothing. It was also the year someone paid retail for a red carpet dress and caused a brouhaha in the process: Hayden Panettiere wore a black-and-white Tom Ford gown to the Golden Globes, even though he didn't ask her to.
From her very first footfall on the red carpet, Lupita Nyong'o stole the hearts of the fashion industry, wearing a variety of colorful, crowd-pleasing gowns during awards show season, including a red Ralph Lauren stunner at the Golden Globes. And Lena Dunham continued her reign as the red carpet queen of awkward dressing, looking wilted and uncomfortable in a tiered, cotton-candy-like skirt and tailored top by Giambattista Valli at the Emmy Awards.
Pharrell Williams and his headgear nearly hijacked the Grammys when the singer-musician-fashion collaborator hit the red carpet sporting a Vivienne Westwood mountain hat that before the year was out would spawn a millinery meme, a faux Twitter account (@PharrellsHat) and generate $44,100 for charity when it was bought at auction by Arby's. Katy Perry and Riff Raff pulled a red carpet twofer, fashion-pranking armchair critics and paying homage to Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by approximating the latter couple's double dose of denim-on-denim from the 2001 AMAs at the 2014 VMAs.
But the best red carpet callback, and first full-blown fashion meme of the 2014 awards season, didn't have to reach back a decade; it barely had to reach back an hour. Thanks to the leveraging power of social media, the white silk Dior Haute Couture gown Jennifer Lawrence wore to the Golden Globes spawned a viral #Lawrencing hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, filling the Internet with all manner of men, Barbie dolls, dogs and cats swathed in similar poufs of whiteness, easy to create with a bed sheet and a couple of strips of electrical tape.
Also trending on the red carpet? The well-dressed baby bump, with the list of celebrities giving a stylish swaddling to their yet-to-be-borns including Olivia Wilde (in serpentine Gucci at the Golden Globes) and Zoe Saldana (in seemingly every designer, everywhere).
A couple of high-profile weddings had memorable fashion moments too. Barbara Walters named Amal Alamuddin the most fascinating person of 2014 for marrying longtime bachelor George Clooney. She was also the world's best-dressed bride of 2014 — not only for the Oscar de la Renta gown she wore to the wedding in Venice, Italy but for the range of Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Giambattista Valli ensembles she was spotted in as well. And Angelina Jolie unexpectedly plucked our heartstrings when it was revealed that the Atelier Versace gown she wore to marry Brad Pitt included a train and veil with embroidered versions of drawings done by their children.
A signature made Sarah Jessica Parker's gown stand out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala — her black-and-white gown included the bold, red signature of Oscar de la Renta on the train. That event would go on to become gossip fodder when an elevator video purportedly showing Solange Knowles assaulting brother-in-law Jay Z went viral. (The relationship between the museum and the fashion world grew even closer this year when the Met announced it was renaming the Costume Institute the Anna Wintour Costume Center in honor of the Vogue editor-in-chief — a longtime trustee who has raised some $125 million for the organization.)
The next-best thing to getting your name on a museum might be getting your name on a lifestyle brand — and 2014 found no shortage of celebrities angling to position themselves as lifestyle gurus a la Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop. "Gossip Girl" alumna Blake Lively entered the fray with a family-focused website called Preserve (which got jammed up in October when she posted news that she was expecting her first child with husband Ryan Reynolds), Kate Bosworth invested in a shopping/image recognition app called Style Thief and the Honest Co. line of eco-friendly diapers and cleaning supplies, co-founded by Jessica Alba in 2013, attracted $70 million in venture capital.
In the realm of sports dressing, Ralph Lauren was roundly criticized for the design of the U.S. Olympic Team's opening ceremony sweater: a busy red, white and blue patchwork knit cardigan that looked like a star-spangled hot mess all by its lonesome but created a breathtakingly beautiful tapestry of patriotism en masse.
First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an inaugural White House Fashion Education Workshop at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., with fashion professionals including Diane von Furstenburg and Jason Wu on hand to mentor design school students (with FLOTUS revealing, along the way, that she wears Spanx). And the royal fashion plate known as the Duchess of Cambridge sent tongues a-wagging during a New York City visit for stepping out in a blue Jenny Packham gown she'd worn not once but twice before.
Even though nobody can quite define it, the word "normcore" was on everybody's lips this year, referring to the trend toward understated luxury that had us seeing pricey sweatpants on the menswear runways of New York and designer-label sneakers everywhere, from Chanel's spring 2014 catwalk collection to Alexander Wang's fall 2015 NY Fashion Week runway.
And finally, the biggest advancement in wrist real estate for 2014 and 2015 — the Apple Watch — was unveiled to mixed reviews. But, what it lacks in style (at first glance we called it "an egg timer with straps" it will undoubtedly make up for with all kinds of gee-whiz technology behind the bezel, making it a potential game-changer in the wearable technology arena.