Time really flies; it’s hard to believe that 2015 is already coming to a close. And while it sort of feels like everything happened too fast to even process anything, there’s no denying a few major moments that went down in the world of fashion and beyond. The events themselves – from designer switch-ups and new faces to music and celebrity moments – may have been less than monumental. However, the conversations started on topics like gender identity, age, race, and the pace of the industry provided us with a framework of consciousness to be carried into 2016. Unless there’s another groundbreaking moment within the final week of 2015, it’s safe to bring this one to a close.
See the top moments of 2015 below, and stay tuned for more major updates in 2016!
Designer Departures (and What’s to Come)
With every season, there seems to be a new game of designer musical chairs. However, this year saw some of the most surprising. Raf Simons’ departure from Dior sent shockwaves through the industry, the result of an overwhelmingly fast-paced schedule. Meanwhile, Alber Elbaz was essentially forced out of his post at Lanvin after 14 years, another example of the downside of suffocating commercial demands. Both designers’ movements sparked conversations about the pace of the industry; at this current rate, creatives are being sucked dry, continuously forced to produce an abstract and unattainable “more.” Alexander Wang may have been another who struggled with this, his tenure at Balenciaga abruptly ending, making way for Demna Gvasalia, designer of it-label Vetements. But many wonder how Gvasalia will fare with this new post, as there is a rightful fear of the potential abuse he could endure from parent companies. Only time will tell in that case, though there’s no denying that the latest designer motions are proof that the industry could use a change.
The Rise of Vetements
Despite some skepticism of what’s to come once designer Demna Gvasalia takes the lead at Balenciaga, there’s no denying that his label, Vetements had quite the year in 2015. A collective of several designers with Gvasalia at the forefront, Vetements has worked to redefine the clothes we already wear. As a result, the label has gained some serious traction, with features everywhere from V to Vogue, some noteworthy moments courtesy of Rihanna, and that floral dress being spotted virtually everywhere. It’s no wonder the Margiela-trained Georgian designer was picked up for Alexander Wang’s old gig, and it’s pretty likely we’ll be seeing even bigger things for Vetements come 2016.
Yeezy Taught Me
Kanye West is a superstar. So it’s no surprise that when he wants to design clothes, he simply designs clothes…and everyone watches. We might have forgotten his brief stint of womenswear looks under the label DW in Paris; the collections weren’t bad, but the reviews were scathing. Not this time. With his Yeezy / Adidas collaborations this year, Kanye took Margiela-esque streetwear to the masses, shown to some of the most star-studded audiences in all of Fashion Month. While the range of what was essentially basics might have lacked in the conceptual department, Yeezy seasons one and two both sold like crazy, appealing to the average consumer just as much as the world’s top fashion editors.
Rick the Showman
Every Rick Owens show comes with a little bit of shock, whether it’s replacing models with step-dancing teams or suspending an Estonian death metal band above the runway. This year, Rick treated us to a couple different surprises, like the models’ casually exposed penises at his fall 2015 menswear show or the women-strapped-to-other-women ordeal for spring 2016 ready-to-wear. While audiences tend to laugh at these unique spectacles, they’ve actually opened the doors for much more profound conversation. We were asked by Owens – whether intentionally or not – to explore what masculinity means, or to open our minds to a new interpretation of female strength and empowerment. Sure, it’s far from traditional, but these are the questions that great fashion visionaries should pose.
The Show of the Year
Sure, Rick and Kanye put on pretty good shows this year. But nothing could top Riccardo Tisci’s spring 2016 Givenchy show, a runway extravaganza-meets-performance art masterpiece done in collaboration with Marina Abramovic. For his tenth anniversary at the house, Tisci decided to show in New York, coincidentally on the fourteenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. In an act of respect and honor, the production alluded to a sense of unity, expressed via live music from various religions. And let’s not forget the clothes themselves: from somber yet lingerie-inspired looks to sleek menswear and even reinventions of some of the designer’s most iconic couture pieces, every ensemble held the story together. The lights at Ground Zero beamed up towards the heavens, perfectly visible from the show’s Hudson River Park venue, tying together this undeniably spiritual experience. Sometimes we forget, but fashion really can make you feel.
H&M’s designer collaborations are always a pretty big deal. But this year’s really took the cake. When Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing paired up with the Swedish retailer, things got wild. Some of Rousteing’s most iconic looks for the house were reinvented at relatively more affordable price points, easily explaining the hysteria that ensued when the goods hit stores in November. But we can’t forget about all the hype built around the collection either, especially the sort of opening ceremony that preceded the sales. A star-studded runway, dance performance, and Backstreet Boys concert all tied together to make for one hell of a night. Congratulations, Olivier, you really won this year’s hype contest.
Tom Opts Out
Fashion shows are often huge spectacles for designers. But Tom Ford is in a category of his own, potentially the king of exclusivity. This was noted from his comeback to the ready-to-wear season a few years ago, featuring stars like Beyoncé and Julianne Moore on the runway, or when the fashion pack ended up in LA for his show earlier this year. But for spring 2016, Tom Ford got over the runway altogether, opting instead for something of a Lady Gaga video featuring models like Kayla Scott, Xiao Wen Ju, Mica Arganaraz, and Lucky Blue Smith. Not only does this bring life to the looks, but it also seems like a way better option to running across the globe to catch a 15-minute show. Could the runway show as we know it become a thing of the past? If Tom Ford has any say in it, maybe so.
Joan Does Céline
Sure, we love Joan Smalls. But there’s always room for the OG Joan: Joan Didion. The iconic writer and perhaps the coolest woman on the planet paired up with arguably the coolest brand on the planet for the Céline spring 2015 ad campaign. Surely a great acknowledgement by Phoebe Philo to all of the powerful, intelligent women of the world, these ads do more than just remind us of Joan Didion’s literary genius. They work to combat the typical archetype of fashion imagery, featuring an 81-year-old woman as their face instead of a 17-year-old model. Taking down ageism in possibly the most painfully awesome way possible? We’re in.
Trans is Beautiful
While there is still a ton of progress to be made in terms of diversity in the fashion industry, we can at least see a bit of variety in terms of gender identity. From the major career advances models like Hari Nef, Tschan Andrews, and Andreja Pejic had this year to the visibility of transpeople in film and television, it seems like we’re finally starting to gain a deeper understanding of gender, sex, and sexuality (and how these concepts are all different from one another). Another major moment came from the public transition of Caitlyn Jenner, whose bravery received more accolades than her Olympic achievements of the past. And fashion is certainly cooperating with this progress. Labels like Hood By Air and Eckhaus Latta are just a couple that disregard gender binaries, while showing their collections on a slew of people of varied gender identities. Just like ethnic diversity in fashion, we’ve still got a long way to go. But there is hope that we can better represent trans men and trans women in the future.
Kylie’s Time to Shine
Caitlyn Jenner made major strides in the battle for trans acceptance, Kendall’s modeling career rose to even higher levels than before, and even Kris got her 15 minutes of fame here and there. And we can’t forget about the rest of the Kardashian Klan continuing their quest to take over the world. But don’t leave Kylie out of it. In 2015, the youngest Jenner sister finally stepped out of everyone’s shadows and stumbled into the spotlight, even having a turn at the modeling game. As a result, she nabbed gigs like the fall 2015 Yeezy show at New York Fashion Week, a Balmain ad alongside sister Kendall, and a cover and spread for Interview. Sure, Kylie’s presence might be questionable, even polarizing. But you can’t deny that she is very much present right now.
Kendall & Gigi: The New Supers?
It wouldn’t be reality if the Kardashian/Jenner team wasn’t dominating the world from every angle. Cue Kendall, yet another member of the group taking her turn in 2015. Racking up some of the most prestigious runway spots from Givenchy to Chanel, scoring campaigns with powerhouses like Calvin Klein and Fendi, and sealing the deal via her Victoria’s Secret debut, there’s no denying Kendall’s current force in the modeling industry. And let’s not forget about BFF Gigi Hadid, who’s had a similarly stellar year to her equally good-looking friend. Gigi was a 2015 favorite on runways for Anna Sui, Tom Ford, Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Max Mara, Moschino, Giambattista Valli, and many more, including that coveted Victoria’s Secret spot alongside her good friend. As a result, she landed in the pages of glossies like V, CR Fashion Book, Antidote, and Vogue Italia, to name a few. Say what you want about these two girls’ rise to fame, given their privileged upbringings, but they may just be the closest thing we currently have to supermodels.
Something Lucky, Something Blue
It takes a lot for a male model to stand out from the rest. But this year, we might have found the guy to do it: Lucky Blue Smith. With piercing eyes and pristine platinum locks, there’s no denying his aesthetic appeal from the get-go. But the Utah-born teen is more than just his looks, with a captivating personality to match. It’s no wonder this year saw him popping up at menswear shows across the globe, even nailing campaigns for the likes of Calvin Klein and Tom Ford. If girls like Kendall and Gigi are our new answer to the supermodel, Lucky Blue might be their male counterpart.
She might not be a household name like the models we’ve been talking about (yet), but no fashion model has had a career like Lineisy Montero this year. Debuting exclusively at the fall 2015 Prada show back in February, the Dominican beauty immediately captured the attention of industry insiders everywhere with her razor-sharp bone structure, flawless complexion, and mini Afro hairstyle. From that moment, “in-demand” would be an understatement, with Lineisy landing in the most coveted editorials and ad campaigns and closing the year with more runway bookings than any other model. What’s perhaps the best part about Montero’s it-girl status is the increased level of appreciation for models of color that it symbolizes. Again, there’s still an extremely long way to go in terms of diversity in the fashion world. But if someone like Lineisy Montero can rise to the top, there’s hope for many more models of color to do the same. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this rising star.
Perhaps connected to Lineisy Montero’s success, or maybe the result of a collective global opinion, it seems like black women’s hair is finally starting to get the mainstream acceptance it deserves. Gone are the days where a black model is required to treat her hair or wear extensions. Instead, we get to see the beautiful do’s of up-and-coming models like Karly Loyce, Afrodita Dorado Dominguez, Aamito Lagum, and Amilna Estevão. Even more established models like Maria Borges have traded in weave for natural crops this year. We shouldn’t call this a natural hair “movement,” as it’s not a fleeting trend; black women have been wearing their hair in a variety of styles for centuries, and it’s about time the rest of the world took notice. But it’s definitely fantastic to see the definition of beauty opening up and becoming more inclusive, even if only slightly, and we look forward to more steps in the right direction in the near future.
Night at the Museum
Every time Rihanna steps out is a moment for her to say, “Hey it’s me. Just reminding you that I’m the queen of the universe.” The 2015 Met Gala was no exception. Not only was Rih probably the only attendee to successfully nod to the theme of the event, China: Through the Looking Glass, she did it in typical superstar grandeur. Wearing an enormous haute couture number by Chinese designer Guo Pei, Rihanna also reminded us of her serious fashion cred. Serving the look of the year, the dress also became subject to a series of hilarious Internet memes. But even the online trolls have to admit that Rihanna looks damn good.
Bitch Better Have Her Money
Speaking of God (Rihanna), the icon also makes music. Yes, it’s hard to believe, since 2015 felt like she’s been teasing us nonstop with the prolonged release of her forthcoming album. But a few fantastic singles definitely held us over, especially “Bitch Better Have My Money.” If the song itself wasn’t the best of the year, the video certainly was, with Rihanna taking viewers on a bloody, sexy road trip full of torture and debauchery. And from our perspective, there were even more major fashion moments featuring labels like Vetements, Tom Ford, Adam Selman, and more. A wild ride for sure, we’re still not over the shocking short film.
The Sound of Genius
If there was any other music that truly stood out to us, it would have to be FKA twigs’ “M3L155X.” The EP and accompanying visuals are beyond spellbinding, as twigs’ “personal female energy” was on full display. With a tinge of feminist fervor, twigs takes agency over her body, her character, and most obviously, her creative vision. And while her work may never be the most commercially appealing, it’s certainly the most captivating and inspiring.
Formerly one of the world’s biggest douchebags, J. Biebz started to clean his act up a bit in preparation for his album, Purpose. As a result, he released songs that you couldn’t hate no matter how hard you tried, his smooth voice definitely past puberty. And his looks finally seemed to get the attention of the fashion world, landing him on the cover of magazines like Interview and i-D. Sure, it’s hard to openly admit that you love Justin Bieber if you’re not a 12-year-old girl from middle America. But it’s definitely getting a lot more common, and we’re not judging you.
The Year in Phosphenes
We’ve accomplished some pretty big things on our end this year, too. From celebrating our two-year anniversary to producing our first tangible print publication, Phosphenes saw increased focus on quality over quantity in order to establish a clear and concise vision. We’ve released bigger and better new projects this year, too, all leading up to some even more exciting things to come in 2016. Stay tuned!