Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 -The Year of Naked Ambition


The year in fashion was both exciting and noteworthy, introducing us to a fresh group of fashion luminaries who have changed the face of fashion.  There were those whose "overexposure" broke the internet and conversely, others who gained stature with classic, and elegant attire. We were newly wowed by fashion stars Lupita Nyong'o, Nicola Peltz and Amal Alamuddin, while established icons such as Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama and Taylor Swift continued to dazzle. There were some unfortunate fashion moments, with indecent exposure being the most often committed transgression of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna.

Overall, the past year was filled with fashion triumphs and disappointments; however, regardless of which category you fell into, controversial sartorial garb ushered in superstardom for those who catered to the media obsessed culture. Examining the impact of fashion over the past 12 months, reveals some interesting shifts and allows us to make some predictions about future trends.

See also: The "New" Best Dressed List for 2014

The Good


Lupita Nyong’o Pastel Blue Prada Dress at the 2014 Oscars
(All photos: Vogue, Daily Mail, Getty Images, Harpers Bazaar,
The Guardian & People Magazine)

The year was dominated by rising movie star Lupita Nyong'o, who first caught the public's attention at the January 2014 Golden Globes in a red Ralph Lauren cape gown. She continued to astound throughout the awards season appearing in a splendid white cut-out Calvin Klein gown to the Critics Choice Awards and a bold turquoise crepe Gucci gown to the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The culmination of her fashion preeminence occurred at the 2014 Academy Awards where she appeared in a light blue heavenly Prada dress, which she said reminded her of Nairobi. Lupita collaborated with Prada on the Oscar gown and the dress's neckline and silhouette were a nod to old Hollywood starlets Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn.


Amal Alamuddin red dress by Alexander McQueen

Similarly, Amal Alamuddin, who married George Clooney this past September, emerged this year as a fashion original appearing in some breathtaking designs during her wedding weekend. Beginning with a striped Dolce and Gabbana dress, progressing to a red high-low hemline Alexander McQueen gown, and astounding with a Giambattista Valli couture mini-dress, Amal took the world by storm. And then she topped it all off at the civil ceremony with a daring white Stella McCartney pantsuit accompanied by a wide-brimmed hat and her perfect Chantilly lace Oscar de la Renta wedding gown.

Nicola Peltz royal blue Balenciaga gown

While Nicola Peltz did not achieve the same fashion notoriety as these 2 starlets, her fashion choices have been noticed and she continues to amaze with her eclectic choices.  Nicola, 19, who starred in the "Transformers," captured the world's attention when she appeared at the New York red carpet premiere in a royal blue strapless Balenciaga gown replete with an elaborate bow in the back and a draped train. Her sparse jewelry and cascading waves enhanced the drama of the gown and added to the distinctness of her look. She then donned an orange Prada creation to the Tokyo premiere and a white lace embroidered Giambattista Vali gown to the Shanghai opening, sealing her fashion image as one of the year's "women to watch."

 The Overexposed


Kim Kardashian Vogue cover

The award for queen of overexposure goes to Kim Kardashian, who appeared on the cover of Vogue in April 2014, which lead to a firestorm of controversy.  Kim described it as "a dream come true," but the public felt the opposite with hundreds threatening to cancel their subscriptions. The article kissed Kim's overabundant butt cheeks with Kanye bragging that he and Kim "help communicate and educate and just bring more dopeness in general." Dopiness is more like it! Vogue then went on to describe Kanye as a "creative polyglot" and Kim as a "cultural phenomenon" whose looks were compared to Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren. Anna Wintour, who allegedly once referred to Kim as the worst thing since socks and sandals, even attended dinner with the power duo and invited them to The Met Gala.


Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine cover

Thankfully, Wintour recently admitted that, "if we just put deeply tasteful people on the cover, it would be a rather boring magazine." So this was clearly a commercial choice that proved profitable with over 500,000 copies sold. Fast forward to Paris Fashion week where Kim and Kanye took over the Balenciaga, Lanvin and Givenchy shows with the crowd booing their tardiness and bravado.  As if all this was not enough coverage, Kim chose to uncover all of her assets and "broke the Internet" with a naked frontal and rear-end picture for the Winter 2014 Paper issue. She justified this decision by stating she wanted to be "empowered" after feeling at the "lowest" she felt about her body when she was pregnant. Reading a book, giving charity, or running a 5k are some other ways normal women choose to feel empowered-nudity just brings more objectification and ridicule.

Rihanna at the CFDA Awards

Stefano Tonchi, the editor of W magazine, who normally remains silent, said that Kim "used" Paper magazine in her nude "spread" whereas W used Kim when she appeared nude in their November 2010 issue. Kudos to Kim for getting 2 normally reticent fashion editors to comment on her - a formerly unprecedented event. Some other victims of "too much information" are Miley Cyrus and Rihanna. In June 2014, Rihanna showed up at the CFDA Awards in an entirely sheer dress. This unfortunate gown undermined the legitimacy of her musical talent with most of the conversation this year being about her provocative fashion choices. This year has been the year of the "nipple" for Rihanna who has posted numerous selfies without shirts or with sheer or mesh tops.

Miley Cyrus wears pasties to NYFW Afterparty

Similarly, after twerking her way to fame in 2013, Miley continued to shock and awe with her stupid antics, promoting drugs and sex and ending up in the hospital in April for an "allergic reaction." Miley showed up in nipple pasties to the Alexander Wang fashion after party and in a black crisscross band design to the 2014 AMFAR gala. Rihanna, who showed up in pasties to the gala, competed with Cyrus for the "who wore it sluttier" award in an attempt to be noticed at this black tie event. Some others I am personally sick of seeing on every runway and in every magazine ad are Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Their dour demeanor and "I am too cool to care" attitude is wearing thin, as are they, and I am hopeful that some fresh blood enters the fashion milieu this year.

 Enduring Classic Style


Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton and Taylor Swift proved for another year that fashion predominance is not always fleeting. Taylor Swift stole the show at the 2014 Grammy Awards in a golden Gucci column chain mail dress, a bouncy ponytail and minimal jewelry - Swift looked flawless. At the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards, she stunned again in a black J. Mendel slitted skirt with a white crop top. This look which was a surprising change from her normal sequined gown or mini-dress attire worked perfectly. Swift continues to remain a style and music phenom, an accomplishment that very few of her colleagues have been able to achieve. Swift is frequently seen in Oscar de la Renta gowns and thankfully, Michelle Obama ended her longstanding feud with Oscar this October by wearing one of his dresses to the White House Education Workshop cocktail party.

Michelle Obama in Monique Lhuillier gown
at the Kennedy Center Honors
While this year Obama's fashion choices have received less attention, she has gradually incorporated bigger brands such as Kors, Lauren and Herrera into her public wardrobe, while still championing lesser known designers such as Tracy Reese and J. Crew. Obama recently wore a spectacular pale pink beaded Monique Lhuillier gown to the Kennedy Center Honors gala reclaiming her supremacy in the world of fashion.

Kate Middleton wearing Seraphine coat

Kate Middleton, whose looks similarly inspire imitation and reverence, won over the New York social set with her modest and affordable clothing. The first night in the Big Apple, she appeared in a Seraphine maternity coat which retails for $159. Middleton wore a Bettina coat to the Nets basketball game which can be bought for $357 and ended her trip at a black-tie Metropolitan Museum of Art dinner in a Jenny Packham gown which she recycled for the third time. The message was clear that this is the "People's Princess" something Lady Diana frequently tried to portray.

Taylor Swift at Academy of Country Music Awards

This year in fashion was full of unexpected surprises and turbulence, with Ralph Rucci stepping down from his eponymous label in November and more recently, Frida Giannini and Patrizio di Marco leaving Gucci. However, the greatest loss was that of Oscar de la Renta who passed away at the age of 82. While Peter Copping was hired to replace him as creative director before his demise, it is abundantly clear that there will never be a substitute for Oscar's warmth, sophistication and humility. The fashion world should use Oscar as a paradigm of what fashion should be - sexy, elegant and timeless.




- Lieba Nesis


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