The biggest fashion news of 2019: Karl Lagerfeld’s death, Mugler's revival, Celine Dion becomes a fashion icon, etc

The biggest fashion news of 2019: Karl Lagerfeld’s death, Mugler's revival, Celine Dion becomes a fashion icon, etc

In a nutshell

Text: Gordon Ng

Editor: Jolene Khor

As the year comes to a close, here's a look back at some of the biggest highs and gloomiest lows that unfolded in the fashion scene. Think of it as 2019 must-knows in a snapshot, from sad moments such as the passing of legend and icon Karl Lagerfeld, to the movements and ideas that played a major role in the industry's agenda.

Karl Lagerfeld passed on

The iconoclastic Karl Lagerfeld died on 19 February aged 85. Both of the brands he was designing for — Chanel and Fendi — had planned for the transition, with his studio right hand Virginie Viard stepping up to replace him at the former and Silvia Venturini Fendi taking up the womenswear design at the latter.


Jennifer Lopez revived that Versace moment

Jennifer Lopez made a surprise appearance at the Versace spring/summer 2020 show, walking out at the finale in a remake of her famous jungle dress — a historically singular dress which in 2000 helped birth Google Images.


Alber Elbaz returned to fashion

Alber Elbaz announced his comeback to fashion, starting up a new label with the support of the Swiss Richemont group. Good news for fans of the fashion industry darling, who had been in a sort of limbo after being let go from Lanvin in 2015.


Billy Porter reinvented red carpet fashion

Billy Porter was the breakout red carpet star of 2019, giving us incredible moments like his tuxedo dress at the Oscars red carpet and a ludicrous Sun God outfit at the Met Gala, where he arrived carried by no less than sex men.


Victoria's Secret ran out of luck

Victoria's Secret announced this year that it would not be staging its annual fashion show, citing record low viewerships and general unprofitability. The news came after bouts of scandal involving transphobic comments from the brand's former chief marketing officer.


...Just as Rihanna's lingerie venture soared

Rihanna, meanwhile, staged her Savage x Fenty lingerie show in collaboration with Amazon Prime. The show involved dancers, performances, and models with a range of bodies and gender identities — possibly the inclusive nail in the coffin of Victoria's Secret.


Conglomorates made big bucks

LVMH made the biggest luxury transaction in history when it snapped up the New York jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. for US$16.2 billion, making it one more multibillion dollar brand in the luxury group's stable — good news for Bernard Arnault, who is now the world's third richest man.


Fur went out of style

High fashion brands decided to go fur free this year, the largest and most influential of which were certainly Gucci, Prada, and Michael Kors.


Celine Dion became a fashion icon

Celine Dion underwent a fashion renaissance this year, turning up to the Paris ready-to-wear and couture shows in incredible ensembles that flexed her renewed joy in dressing up. She was so moved in a Valentino show, she cried as the finale went down the catwalk.


A gatecrasher went amok at Chanel

At Chanel, the French vlogger Marie S'Infiltre crashed the runway, jumping onto the recreated rooftops of Paris in a tweed ensemble that apparently fit in so well with the lineup security guards had a hard time picking her out of the real models to chase her off. Gigi Hadid ended up saving the day, pulling the gatecrasher off to the side and walking her off the set.


Fashion became greener than ever

Kering led a fashion pact the G7 summit, inviting fashion and textiles companies to commit to action for the climate, biodiversity, and oceans. A total of 56 companies and 250 brands got involved, pledging to reorganize their companies to reduce environmental damage.


Politics got chic

Nancy Pelosi gave power dressing a new look when she emerged victorious from a confrontation with President Trump, wearing a bright red Max Mara coat. Interest in the brand surged, and Pelosi become the poster girl of chic, angry women everywhere with causes to fight for.


Department stores faced closures

Barney's really is a dinosaur. The New York department store announced its bankruptcy and subsequent sale this year to the Saks brand. The most shocking thing to ensue was the clearance sale that Barney began holding, promising ridiculous discounts of 10% and later an additional — wait for it — 5%.


Kim Kardashian angered the Japanese

Kim Kardashian got into trouble when she announced her shapewear label and called it Kimono, sparking anger around the globe at her insensitivity. The mayor of Kyoto sent Kardashian a letter requesting she change the name, which she relented to after initial resistance. It's now called Skims.


A high-high collaboration was talk of the town

Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix presented the ultimate fashion collaboration when it was revealed at the end of Van Noten's runway show that the two had worked together on the spring/summer 2020 collection. Fashion fans gasped, hyperventilated, and cried (alright, that's just us) at the incredible master-meets-master moment of pure fashion.


Mugler scored a facelift

Mugler had a comeback of sorts this year, with celebrities loaning out the designer's archival looks. We still remember Cardi B in her birth-of-Venus gown at the Grammy Awards and Kim Kardashian's trompe l'oeil wet dress at this year's camp-themed Met Gala.


Style simplified

Normalcy seemed to also make a comeback, a sensibility Prada was at the forefront of. First, it staged a stripped back resort show in New York — while Dior was having a bonanza thrown in Morocco — exhorting ease and wearability. Later in the year at its spring/summer 2020 show in Milan, Miuccia Prada described her collection's central idea as 'seditious simplicity'.


Naomi Campbell landed a new career

Naomi Campbell got on YouTube, and the fashion world got a look into the life and times of the world's leading supermodel. Highlights included an elaborate hygiene routine on flights, and a peek at how Campbell shops for groceries at Whole Foods.


Stella McCartney moved to a new home

Stella McCartney left the Kering conglomerate this year and announced a move to the LVMH group — the former's mortal enemy and chief competitor. At LVMH, McCartney was made a group consultant of sorts, leading initiatives for LVMH brands to move towards environmental sustainability.


Calvin Klein said goodbye to high fashion

Calvin Klein decided this year, soon after Raf Simons left the brand, that it was done with high fashion. The American label has been struggling financially. Because jeans and underwear make for a more tenable direction, they opted out entirely of the equation of showing and producing collections for fashion week.