Reflecting on the fashionable year that was

By Zoe Walker

As 2011 draws to a close, Viva looks back at another year of fashion scandals and triumphs on and off the catwalk.

So that's that: another year, almost finished. And what a blinder 2011 was. With heartbreaking earthquakes and occupied spaces, journalistic scandals and political uprisings, this will go down as one of the most tumultuous years in recent history.

Summarising the year in fashion seems a little inappropriate in comparison ... perfectly fitting in itself, with unnecessary fashion commentary hitting new levels of ridiculousness; namely, pieces that examined the fashion of Occupy Wall Street and the English riots.

* What are your personal fashion highs and lows of 2011? Let us know and send your pictures here

In the mad world of fashion, it was a year defined by Dior and royalty; with a few dramatic changes behind the scenes.

Designer John Galliano's startling outburst in February began the fashion year on a negative note that was to permeate further into the industry. Galliano was soon fired, after 14 years at the helm of French fashion house Christian Dior, and several names were put forward as possible replacements - some plausible (Marc Jacobs), some ridiculous (Alexander Wang). Twitter and the internet sped up fashion's rumour cycle, or at least made it more public: there were constant whispers about Stefano Pilati being fired from his role at Yves Saint Laurent, but it was fashion writer Derek Blasberg's tweet about Ricardo Tisci moving to Dior that summed up this craziness best: "I was just told backstage at the Katy Perry concert (of all places!) that Ricardo Tisci is CONFIRMED at Dior".

Tip: if you hear something backstage at a Katy Perry concert, it doesn't mean it's confirmed.

Come March, there was more movement in fashion's musical chairs: Balmain's Christophe Decarnin didn't appear at the end of his show, and rumours began to circulate that he was "stuck in a mental hospital". It was later confirmed that he had been hospitalised for depression, and in April Decarnin officially stepped down (soon after, Olivier Rousteing was promoted to fill the position). Locally, there were unexpected shifts, albeit a lot less controversial: Huffer co-founder Dan Buckley leaving the label in February, and iconic K Rd vintage stores Fast and Loose and This is Not a Love Shop closing their doors.

This was also the year of Alexander McQueen. If 2010 was marked by the sad suicide of the label's founder, 2011 was the year of its rebirth. Sarah Burton blossomed in her role as the label's new designer, with glowing reviews, the incredibly successful Savage Beauty exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and that dress. Well, those dresses: the Duchess of Cambridge's McQueen wedding gown was a feat of craftmanship, but it was sister Pippa's slimline dress that was the unexpected smash hit. And much like the old-fashioned idea of a full-on royal wedding, it was lovely, in a year when Twitter spurted rumours and gossip by the hour, that no one knew Burton had the job until Middleton stepped out of her hotel - and even then some weren't sure, until they spotted Burton adjusting her train at Westminster Abbey's entrance.

In July, the year's other royal wedding. Not Monaco's Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, not Zara and Mike, but fashion royalty Kate Moss. She married rock star Jamie Hince wearing a 1920s-style wedding dress by her friend John Galliano, with high profile fashion guests like Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour and Naomi Campbell - and wedding photos shot by Mario Testino featured in the pages of Vogue.

Change and controversy came later in the year courtesy of the global fashion schedule clash, with a war of words and wills breaking out between major fashion week hosts New York, Milan and London. New York planned to push its dates back a week; Milan changed its dates so it clashed with New York and London, and things got a bit nasty. As it stands now, some dates still clash, so expect this battle to continue into the next year.

Then in December came the passing of Francois Lesage, head of the last great Parisian embroidery ateliers Maison Lesage, and one of the last genuine couture artisans who would attach each bead by hand. In a year where Kanye West's fashion debut garnered more attention, it symbolised a somewhat saddening changing of the guard.

A few fashionable faces that defined 2011

John Galliano - A sad fall from grace.

Andrej Pejic - The Australian male model helping change the face of fashion.

Kate Middleton - "What was she wearing??!!!"

Jessica Clarke - The first New Zealander to walk the Victoria's Secret runway show.

Dakota Fanning and Haley Stansfield - Young actresses appearing in banned fashion campaigns for Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu.

Donatella Versace - Her label's collaboration with chain store H&M was popular it apparently led to hospitalisations.

- NZ Herald

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