The year 2020 is undoubtedly one we don’t mind putting behind us. It left people with the anxiety of the uncertain, took us away from our loved ones, was logistically unsound, and gave a touch of agoraphobia that will be hard to shake. Despite that, if you’re reading this you made it to this point, so we’re taking a moment to highlight the tenacious good that still came out of the year that was, in case you missed it.
Versace Cast “Plus-Size” Runway Models For the First Time Ever
Is this the year that size diversity was truly embraced by high fashion? Seeing curve models Jill Kortleve, Precious Lee and Alva Claire on the Versace Spring/Summer 2021 catwalk certainly seemed to suggest that there has been a breakthrough. A notoriously difficult city when it comes to diversity in casting, Milan has been slow to take on the issue of body inclusivity. But now with the needed push of Fendi along with Donatella’s seal of approval, this hopefully signals a significant change of attitude within the European fashion industry. That and the fact that 2020 was bookended by two plus-size models on the cover of American Vogue shows how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.
Valentina Sampaio makes history as the first trans model in Sports Illustrated
This was the year that further consolidated Valentina Sampaio’s status as a trailblazer. Following on from her breakthrough Victoria’s Secret booking in 2019, this year Valentina became the first openly transgender model to pose for Sports Illustrated. Using her appearance in the Swimsuit Issue to raise awareness for the rights of trans people in her native Brazil, Valentina summed up her position beautifully: “Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds. We face snickers, insults, fearful reactions, and physical violations just for existing. Our options for growing up in a loving and accepting family, having a fruitful experience at school, or finding dignified work are unimaginably limited and challenging. I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can.”
Gigi Hadid Gives Birth to First Child with Singer Zayn
If you peeked over at Gigi Hadid’s profile for 2020, her first half was furiously stacked with runway appearances, editorial, and billboards in anticipation of the biggest surprise this year, she was expecting a daughter with singer, Zayn Malik. Born in September at home, Mama Hadid has entered into full nesting mode until she decides her maternity leave is up but at least she’s taken the little one out for her first New York snowfall.
Karlie Kloss Announces Pregnancy
It seems like just yesterday that Karlie Kloss arrived in New York, fresh from being scouted at a Missouri mall. Now known as one of the hardest working models in the industry the New Super, Project Runway host and Ivanka in-law announced in October that she is expecting her first child. Married since 2018 to Joshua Kushner, the new family will be making Miami home, where they recently purchased a property worth $23.5 million. Karlie has come a long way from St. Louis!
EDITORIAL SHAKE UPS
Samira Nasr named Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar U.S
At the beginning of the year, former editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey stepped down from her position at Harper’s Bazaar after 19 years. She was replaced in June by former executive fashion director at Vanity Fair, Samira Nasr. Nasr, of Lebanese and Trinidadian descent, is the first person of color to helm the Hearst publication in its 152-year run.
Chioma Nnadi is the new Editor of Vogue.com; Condé Promotes
Condé rival Vogue had major movement as well, promoting Chioma Nnadi as Editor of Vogue.com and giving its star Big 4 talent worldwide positions. Anna Wintour was named chief content officer for the company, globally, and will also serve as editorial director for Vogue worldwide. Edward Enninful was also promoted to European editorial director of Vogue U.K., France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Condé also spread the wealth outside of Vogue with Amy Astley promoted to global editorial director of AD, Divia Thani to global editorial director of Condé Nast Traveler, and Will Welch to global editorial director of GQ.
Julia Sarr-Jamois and Poppy Kain Promoted at British Vogue
British Vogue also promoted within ranks Julia Sarr-Jamois, previously fashion editor-at-large, and Poppy Kain, previously senior fashion editor, to fashion directors respectively at the Condé title. On the new(-ish) hires Enninful stated, “Both Julia and Poppy are unique talents, and bring something extra special to Vogue’s fashion shoots. I can’t wait to watch them go from strength-to-strength in their new roles.”
André Leon Talley releases The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir
Andre Leon Talley’s hotly-anticipated memoir certainly delivered. Packed with anecdotes about everyone from Diana Vreeland to Michelle Obama, the Chiffon Trenches also outlined serious allegations of industry-wide discrimination, both racial and sexual. In a year when it seemed like problematic institutions were finally being brought to account, 2020’s must-read book called out some of fashion’s most powerful names.
Black Lives Matter in Fashion, Too
With the world rocked by the pandemic and the senseless killings in the US of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, many creatives, both stateside and abroad, stood up to challenge rampant discrimination in their communities and professions. When Instagram timelines were flooded with black squares for #BlackOutTuesday, a conversation was sparked on how to move beyond #hashtagactivism and enact change beyond the fleeting feeling one-time donations bring. Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner and publicist, Sandrine Charles started the Black in Fashion Council, organizing a formidable list of editors, buyers, agents, and creatives focused on the core mission of using their influence to examine companies’ diversity practices and connect them to the right talent if they’re lacking in hires. Uoma Beauty founder Sharon Chuter started Pull Up for Change with a similar mission in mind of transparency, asking companies to reveal the ratios of black workers hired and how many are in executive positions. Shoe designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies also started the 15 Percent Pledge, aptly named after the ratio of Black people in the U.S. population. Focused on tangible results, James asked retailers like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Sephora to pledge at least 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
Print Tries to Save the World
Unable to work and wanting to give back, creatives took it even further by creating initiatives that directly connected and profited their communities. Organizations like the See In Black Project and Reframing the Future rallied photographers together, sold affordable prints of their most poignant work, then donated proceeds to social justice projects like Black Futures Lab, whose mission is to politically engage the Black community year-round; the National Bail Out, which provides bail for Black community members being detained before a trial; and the Marsha P. Johnson Initiative, an organization protecting the lives of Black trans people. Addressing the stress of the pandemic on frontline workers, Pictures for Elmhurst raised more than $1 Million for the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, NY, one of the city’s busiest centers for COVID-19.
Raf Simons Introduces Women’s Wear / Raf Simons named as co-creative director at Prada
2020 proved to be pivotal for Raf Simons. The Belgian designer got better (not bitter!) in a year that was a wash for so many others by diversifying and consolidating his business interests. From the launch of his namesake womenswear line to being named as co-creative director at Prada, Raf made major moves.
On top of Dior Men Duties, Kim Jones named Artistic Director at Fendi
Kim Jones has certainly had his hands full shaping the world of Dior Men into his own vision since he took over the brand from Kris Van Assche in 2018. In September, he added the role of Artistic Director of Fendi to his long resume of achievements, a position formerly occupied to the late Karl Lagerfeld. Jones will unveil his first couture collection for the Roman furrier, January 27th at Palais Brongniart during Paris Haute Couture Week.
Kanye West and Gap Strike 10-Year Deal for ‘Yeezy Gap’ Apparel Line
It was another year of ‘one step forward and two steps back’ for Kanye West. Despite the failure of his campaign for US president (he received 0.03% of the vote) and backlash following bizarre statements about slavery he made on the campaign trail, Kanye ultimately ended up on top. Fulfilling a long-held dream, the rapper-designer managed to lock down a multi-year mega-deal with the fast-fashion giant and former retail employer, Gap. Expect co-branded Yeezy Gap apparel to hit Gap stores in 2021, with an assist by design director Mowalola Ogunlesi, in a collaboration that may just fund the threatened Kanye 2024 presidential bid. (We still want to know what happened to the Telfar x Gap collab!)
After Clare Waight Keller, Matthew Williams is the new artistic director for Givenchy
After three years British designer Clare Waight Keller left her artistic director position at Givenchy in April, a tenure that included dressing princesses and celebrities alike. In June, American designer Matthew Williams was announced as her replacement, hoping to replicate the cool, buyable factor of the Tisci years with the couture creative expression his previous predecessor built upon, all while taking on the new title on top of his work with his brand 1017 Alyx 9SM. With Waight Keller’s short era and similar stints cut short like Lee McQueen and John Galliano, Williams will no doubt have the most pressure put on him to bring the house back to its former glory of influence.
Natacha Ramsay-Levi Steps Down, Gabriela Hearst Steps Up to Chloe
Similarily after less than four years, French designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi (who came to the brand after Waight Keller left for Givenchy; musical chairs much?) stepped down at the top of the month as creative director of Chloé, who less than a week later announced that self-taught designer Gabriela Hearst would be taking over as creative director. Focused on sustainability having founded her eponymous brand after taking over her father’s Uruguayan sheep ranch in 2015, Gabriela Hearst has built a $24 million a year business and was last year named by the CFDA as the American Womenswear Designer of the Year. On their new acquisition CEO of the Richemont-owned brand, Riccardo Bellini said the following on hiring Hearst, “Her powerful vision of more responsible fashion truly embodies the values and sense of commitment of today’s Chloé women. Gabriela is a forward-thinking woman and her creative leadership will be a positive force in further evolving and expanding our founder’s original vision of meaningful and powerful femininity.”
Digital Activations Were A Plenty
Unable and unwilling to show in person during a global pandemic, many brands stood up to the challenge that COVID 19 presented this year. In May, Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa created a now viral moment when she debuted her latest capsule collection via Instagram Live on 3D models. Virtual reality certainly felt better than what we were experiencing in real-time and the quarantine high points of games like Animal Crossing made sure to connect with fashion influencers and brands like Marc Jacobs and MM6 Margiela to keep users on their toes. Hairstylist Jawara had a virtual hair exhibition, COARSE: The Edges of Black Ingenuity, showing off his most fanciful, sculptural pieces (and still up!). Balenciaga even came out with an interactive video game with a full cast of muses titled, “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.” Get those controllers out, your next retail haul might be virtually.