It’s safe to say that 2018 was a pretty strange ass year, dominated by Trump’s tyranny, Brexit and Mark Zuckerberg’s robot-like disposition at congressional hearings. On the other hand, a lot of positive things came out of 2018, like the “Me-Too” movement which set out to expose sexual predators, Saudi women being given the right to drive and, my personal favourite, a black American woman marrying into the British royal family. With this in mind, it is important to think of events, both good and bad, that excited, shocked and disappointed the fashion world as a whole. So, in this post, I picked what I think were the three most important events of the 2018 fashion calendar.
1. Edward Enninful’s British Vogue After his confirmation as editor-in-chief in April 2017, Enninful released his inaugural magazine in December of 2017. This cover, with model Adwoa Aboah on the cover, set the precedent for what could be expected from the new and improved magazine in the New Year. When I was younger and developing my interest in the fashion industry, Vogue was my go-to magazine. However, after a while, I felt that it became less and less interesting and appealing as the style of writing and the content seemed to become less relatable. My interest was once again sparked when I saw that a West African man was set to head the most prestigious fashion magazine in the world. What I find most appealing about Enninful’s Vogue is his ability to pay homage and respect to the magazine’s heritage whilst simultaneously appealing to the younger generation. As I see it, Enninful has perfectly united the dichotomy between the older and newer readers. With the inclusion of a more racially diverse set of models, mentions of up and coming designers and a stronger online presence, Enninful was able to attract the youth, such as me. One of my favourite issues was the May issue, where young models from different Ethnic backgrounds graced the double spread cover. It was highly inspired and the epitome of the sort of inclusion I wish was seen across the board in the fashion industry. I give Enninful an 11/10 in his first year as editor-in-chief, and I can’t wait to see what else he has planned for his tenure.
2. Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton When it was announced that Kim Jones would be stepping down as artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, there was much speculation and buzz as to who would take his place under the prestigious fashion house. In March 2018, the public learned that Virgil Abloh would be the new artistic director and this news was met with both shock and praise. Abloh, who, like many modern designers had no traditional fashion education, and was rather trained an architect. He made his start in the fashion industry by interning at Fendi with his close friend, Kanye West. He then went on to establish his first brand, Pyrex Vision, which he described as a couture streetwear brand. After this came the reason for his mainstream success and fame, Off-White which is seen as a high-end streetwear brand. This brand put Abloh on the map, essentially making him the leading figure in highly-priced streetwear. For this reason, I found it interesting and almost shocking that LV would choose Abloh to lead such a prestigious brand. I think they were inspired by the changing climate of the fashion industry, with more and more high-end brands being influenced by streetwear. His appointment did ensure his place amongst a small and elite group of African designers who headed high fashion brands, with the likes of Ozwald Boateng and Olivier Rousteing. His inaugural show fell during Spring/Summer 2019 Menswear Paris fashion week and it was a momentous occasion, to say the least. Held in the gardens of the Palais-Royale, the collection as displayed on a sprawling rainbow catwalk, with many items based on the Wizard of Oz, a story that closely resembles Abloh’s rise to stardom. Despite my personal belief that Abloh doesn’t possess the talent or skill to head the menswear sector of such an established brand, his appointment is a huge milestone for the black community. It will be interesting to see how far Abloh will go with Louis Vuitton and what he has in store for the rest of his seasons as artistic director.
3. Hedi Slimane’s Disastrous Debut Like with many unexpected changes in the fashion world, the news that after a decade as creative director of the French fashion house, Céline, Phoebe Philo would be stepping down from her role was met with much upset. There was equally a certain level of excitement in anticipation as to who would replace the celebrated designer. In January 2018, it was announced that Hedi Slimane, who had previously worked at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, would assume the role of creative director. Now, I was super excited for Slimane’s tenure because I loved his work under Dior Homme. I felt as though his stint was a testament to his craftsmanship and talent as a designer, as menswear is a hard sector to master. His work was sleek, simple and classic, so one would hope that he would apply the same to his work at Céline, right? Well, when his inaugural Spring/Summer 2019 collection was displayed in Paris, it was met with immense outrage from the fashion community. Slimane had said before the show that his style significantly differed that of Philo’s and as a result, his clothes would be quite different. However, even with this in mind, no one could anticipate the complete desecration of the precedent set by Philo. Essentially, Slimane recreated his 80s-style disco clothing that we saw while he was at Saint Laurent and while it worked at the time for that brand, it was certainly not applicable here. Some argue that the main reason Slimane’s collection was such a disastrous failure was that he is a man, and as a result is unable to appropriately create practical but chic clothing for a female clientele.
With all this in mind, it’s evident that 2018 was a monumental year in the fashion industry, considering that this is only a fraction of the important events that took place last year. What I think is most important for us to take away from these events is the rapidly changing climate of the fashion industry. There are much modernisation and development to the sort of content that we see every day in fashion and it is inspiring but also emphasises how much more needs to be done in order for the fashion industry to be as relatable and accessible as possible.