Fashion Diary: Fast forward to 2012

Raf Simons
Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons acknowledges the audience at the end of Jil Sander Spring-Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection on September 24, 2011 during the Women’s Mialn fashion week.
(Giuseppe Cacace, AFP/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic

Stealth wealth. Fashion gaming. Elsa Schiaparelli. Raf Simons. What else? Here’s a list of stylish people, trends and ideas to pay attention to in 2012.

Surrealism. Opening May 10, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s exhibition “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” will explore the link between 1930s era Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and her modern-day counterpart Miuccia Prada. Both designers have been informed by the whimsical motifs of surrealism. Schiapparelli created the iconic lobster dress, shoe hat and insect brooch, and Prada created lip-print skirts, tromp l’oeil jackets and, for spring 2012, shoes with “flames” and “headlights” inspired by cars. Both designers were influenced by contemporary artists of their time — Schiaparelli by Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau, and Prada by Anish Kapoor, Dan Flavin and others featured in her Milan art space and museum, the Prada Foundation.

PHOTOS: 12 trends and ideas for 2012

Art Deco. The spring 2012 collections haven’t hit stores yet, but the 1920s trend evident when they were shown on the runways last fall is already making an impact on the red carpet. Florence Welch and Diane Kruger have both worn black-and-gold fringed dresses from Gucci’s Art Deco-themed spring collection on red carpets in recent weeks. And now that “The Artist,” set in 1927 Hollywood, is a front-runner at the awards shows, we’re likely to see more flappers and fringe as the red carpet season heats up. Also, in December Baz Luhrmann’s take on “The Great Gatsby,” set in the Jazz Age, is slated to hit movie theaters with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in the title roles, and with costumes designed by Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin, who wowed us with her stylish work on “Australia” and “Moulin Rouge.”


Hollywood costume designers. Too long relegated to the sidelines, Martin and other Hollywood costume designers will get their due in a blockbuster exhibition opening Oct. 20 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, director of the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design at UCLA, “Hollywood Costume” will feature gems from every decade of film, from the early days of Charlie Chaplin to the 2012 Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.” For a sneak peek, check out Landis’ 2007 book “Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design” (Harper Design).

Designer fast fashion fizzle? Sure, fast fashion designer collaborations make news. But do they still make sales? Despite the buying frenzies of 2011, there were also plenty of returns in stores and items put up for sale on EBay from last year’s Missoni for Target and Versace for H&M collections. And the Giambattista Valli for Macy’s merchandise didn’t seem to move much at all. The next big designer collaboration is Marni at H&M, debuting on March 8. Marni designer Consuelo Castiglioni has a knack for color and print, but her designs are quite avant garde, which could make this collection H&M’s most esoteric yet — after Comme des Garcons, that is. Sofia Coppola directed the ad campaign. We’ll see who lines up for the launch.

Fashiontainment. It seems like there are more fashion-themed TV shows now than ever, including Lifetime’s “Project Runway All Stars,” which premiered Thursday, with Isaac Mizrahi and designer alumni from the original show; Lifetime’s “24 Hour Catwalk” with Cynthia Rowley and Derek Blasburg (premiering Tuesday), and NBC’s “Fashion Star” with Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie (premiering March 13). All three shows follow the familiar designer competition format. What else to watch? “Jane by Design” (premiered Jan. 3), a scripted series on ABC Family that’s a cross between Hannah Montana and “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “It’s a Brad, Brad World” (premiered Monday), a docudrama on Bravo that follows stylist and ex-Rachel Zoe assistant Brad Goreski.

Stealth wealth. Occupy Wall Street dominated the headlines last year, and now the Courage Campaign is trying to drum up support for a November ballot measure to increase taxes on wealthy Californians, using Kim Kardashian as their example of millionaires who could pay more. Will the growing class division and jobs debate usher in an era of stealth wealth style? Only time will tell. But for now, Kim, you might want to leave that Birkin bag at home.


A Dior decision. It’s been 10 months and counting since Dior has had a creative director at the helm of its ready-to-wear and couture collections. John Galliano was abruptly fired in March after he was caught on video making anti-Semitic slurs, and the collections have been designed by the house team since then. Meanwhile, nearly every major designer working today has been rumored to be in the running to be his replacement, including Riccardo Tisci, Sarah Burton, Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs (who recently told Vogue magazine he turned it down). So who is going to take the job? Women’s Wear Daily reported last month that Dior was closing in on Raf Simons. The Belgian designer at the helm of Jil Sander would certainly be an inspired choice. His modern interpretations of couture shapes, in high-voltage colors, have made the Jil Sander runway collections among the most influential in recent seasons. It would be exciting to see what he would do given the resources and archives of a real couture house. But Dior still isn’t commenting.

Brazil, the new China. The momentum for Brazil as an emerging luxury market has been building for some time now. And in 2012, 30 high-end brands are set to open stores there, according to Forbes magazine, including Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi. With the debt crisis continuing to dog Europe, that makes Brazil a bright spot for fashion. When luxury brands started looking to China for business opportunities, designers also looked there for inspiration. Maybe we’ll see the enthusiasm for Brazil turning up on the runway too. Samba style anyone?

Feel-good fashion. It was almost as if designers were trying to will optimism back into shoppers’ mind-sets (and wallets) with the spring 2012 collections, which were awash with upbeat color (Roksanda Ilincic, Derek Lam), prints (Diane von Furstenberg, Altuzarra) and ethereal pearlescence (Chanel, The Row). Call it feel-good fashion.

Media mash-ups. Facing declining readership and more ad dollars migrating to the Web, glossy fashion magazines will continue to try to reinvent themselves to generate more revenue. Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour are planning major redesigns, while other titles are plotting moves into e-commerce and entertainment. Last year, Conde Nast (which owns Vogue and Vanity Fair, among other titles) launched an entertainment division to develop TV, film and book properties. Details entered into a partnership with e-commerce site Mr. Porter, and Women’s Health did the same with Gilt Groupe. Look out for more media mash-ups in the coming months.

Counterfeiting in fashion. The battle over fakes in fashion seems to be escalating after several recent high-profile lawsuits over designer trademarks (Christian Louboutin vs. Yves Saint Laurent over who can use red soles on shoes, and Louis Vuitton vs. Warner Bros. over fake LV logo luggage in the film “The Hangover Part 2"), and the Obama administration’s increased focus on the issue leading to more vigorous crackdowns from law enforcement. (Last month, in a single raid at the Port of Los Angeles, federal authorities seized $4 million in fake designer jeans, apparel and shoes with Gucci, North Face and True Religion labels). The Innovative Design and Protection Piracy and Prevention Act (which has the support of some in the industry, but not others) was introduced in Congress last year and is being reviewed by a House subcommittee.

Shopping 3.0. It’s now possible to shop from your desk and your phone, to pre-order designer looks straight from the runway ( or borrow them for a special occasion (, to ask our friends for advice ( and comparison shop for the best deal ( In 2012, there will be even more out there to entice tech-savvy shoppers. Some possibilities? Kiosks in brick-and-mortar stores offering personalized style suggestions, crowd-sourced clothing designs, and social gaming adding a fun, interactive element to the e-commerce experience.