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The most talked about fashion moments of 2020

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From Prada making PPE and the Black Lives Matter uprising, to Rihanna’s iconic Savage sequel, Vetements’ doppelgängers, and North West’s Paris Fashion Week debut

From start to finish, 2020 has been a wild ride. When it came to fashion, we started the year seeing February’s fashion season cut short, as editors fled Milan, before the industry, along with the rest of the world, ground to a halt, as we hunkered down at home in the face of global lockdowns designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

In the months that followed, students switched studios for their bedroom and set their uni work aside to make scrubs, as the likes of Burberry, Prada, and Pyer Moss joined them in making much-needed PPE for medical professionals everywhere. Shoes were switched out for sweatpants, which have barely been taken off in the last nine months – and likely won’t be for at least a good few more.

By the time June rolled around, fashion faced a reckoning, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained mainstream momentum and endless inequalities and failings were brought to the fore. Black squares and messages of solidarity were posted and donations were made – but only time will tell if the industry makes good on its word of ‘doing better’. 

“However tough 2020 might have been, there were also moments that reminded us of fashion’s power to inspire”

However tough 2020 might have been, there were also moments that reminded us of fashion’s power to inspire. With the Met Gala first postponed and then cancelled, High Fashion Twitter set about taking things into the digital sphere, staging their own URL event online.

Fashion Week itself also moved onto the internet, as editors around the world switched out the FROW for their sofas, and the likes of Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada, Charles Jeffrey, Gucci, and Collina Strada imagined bold new ways of presenting their collections. TikTok, as it tends to do, also spawned countless trends and fashion challenges that united us during a time when we’ve never been more alone (in fact, you can see a number of them in the gallery above if you’re so inclined).

Including Rihanna’s very Savage sequel, John Waters’ turn as the face of Saint Laurent, Raf and Miuccia’s first joint show, and the moment Supreme’s $8 Oreo reached dizzy resale heights to the tune of $17,000, we’ve rounded up some of the most talked-about fashion moments of 2020.

MARGIELA DOC IN HIS OWN WORDS LEAKED ON PORNHUB

Pornhub has been on the radar a lot this year: the site offered free premium memberships at the beginning of the pandemic, banned American’s who didn’t vote from using the site on Election Day, and deleted all unverified videos after receiving backlash for non-consensual content. Unexpectedly delving into the fashion world, documentary Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, was leaked onto the site. The film – which doesn’t feature any X-rated scenes, btw – unpacks Martin Margiela’s inspirations and future in fashion, and released a week after the leak. While we doubt a Margiela x Pornhub collab is in the works for next year, at this point we wouldn’t even be surprised.

THE BLACK IN FASHION COUNCIL LAUNCHED

Founded in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests by Teen Vogue editor Lindsay Peoples Wagner and PR specialist Sandrine Charles, the Black In Fashion Council is dedicated to advocate and secure the advancement of Black people working in the industry. The initiative also built an equality index score for brands, with the likes of Glossier, Calvin Klein, and Depop having already signed up. 

BIFC wasn’t the only initiative dedicated to making fashion more inclusive this year however. Others pushing for a fairer, more diverse industry included Aurora James, who launched the 15 Percent Pledge, Sharon Cuter of Pull Up For Change. Read more about the pioneers pushing things forward here. 

SUPREME DROPPED THE FUCKBOY’S DREAM COOKIE

Long before Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Oreos took over Twitter feeds, Supreme collabed with the brand to drop the dream cookie for fuckboys everywhere. Releasing alongside the label’s SS20 collection, the red, logo-stamped Oreos sold out instantly – and while they might have retailed for $8 officially, prices skyrocketed to $17,000 on resale sites. Honestly: LOL.

BURBERRY, PRADA, AND MORE HELPED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

In the earliest days of lockdown, when it still felt too scary to go outside and an evening’s entertainment consisted of bleaching the door handles for the 4,786th time that day, much of fashion turned its attention to helping out where it could in the pandemic. For the likes of Prada and Burberry, that meant turning its factories over to making PPE, while Gucci offered up its Instagram to the World Health Organisation, who interrupted scheduled broadcasting and used the platform to amplify its vital messages. Elsewhere, in New York, Pyer Moss’s studio became a coronavirus donation centre which helped supply medical professionals in the city – which, at the time, was the epicentre of the outbreak thanks to Donald Trump’s typically idiotic decisions. 

MICHELE LAMY WORE RICK OWENS’ DISMEMBERED HEAD TO PFW

In other fashion moments we have no explanation for, Michele Lamy wore an all-black ensemble with a life-sized version of Rick Owens’ head to his AW20 presentation in Paris – fashion romance at its finest. The head was created by sculptor Douglas Jennings, whose work appears in Owens’ stores around the world. Luckily for us, the moment was memorialised via an extremely surreal photo of Lamy and 90s icon, “Yeah!” singer Usher Raymond. 

HARRY STYLES BECAME VOGUE’S FIRST MALE COVER STAR

This may have been the year we all stayed indoors, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some major fashion moments. Case in point: Harry Styles on the cover of American Vogue, and although he made history as the title’s first male solo cover star, it was his outfit that really got people talking. Dressed in a frothy blue tulle gown from Gucci’s AW20 show, the “Watermelon Sugar” singer sparked an online debate about masculinity, gender, and the privilege afforded to white, cisgender men when it comes to moments like these. You can read our take on the conversation here.

RIHANNA BLESSED US WITH A VERY SAVAGE SEQUEL

2020 might have been a shitshow of a year, but thankfully, Rihanna swooped in to salvage it – for a couple of hours at least – with her follow-up to the Savage x Fenty extravaganza of 2019. With the likes of Bella Hadid, Lizzo, Indya Moore, Paloma Elsesser, Paris Hilton, and many, many more on the line-up, the show was a celebration of diversity, music, and fashion (duh!) and hammered home Ri’s position as queen of the lingerie world. Victoria who? 

A GLITTERY STRAWBERRY DRESS TOOK OVER THE TL 

Summer 2020 belonged to Lirika Matoshi’s strawberry dress, which took over social media feeds everywhere: from Instagram and Twitter, to TikTok’s FYP, there was no escaping its glittery pink frothiness. A revolt against grey tracksuits? A further evolution of the cottagecore aesthetic? Or TikTok’s notable effect on how we shop? If you’re still looking for answers, read our investigation into the sudden viral fame of the dress here.  

RAF MADE HIS DEBUT AT PRADA

It’s hard to believe that the news Raf Simons was heading for Prada dropped in February, given this year has blurred into an endless chasm of time. While COVID-19 might have meant his first show alongside Miuccia looked very different to how we imagined back then, that didn’t mean the two powerhouses didn’t send an iconic collection – full of ‘Prada-isms’ – down the runway for SS21. Also taking up new roles this year were Kim Jones, who was announced as creative director of Fendi womenswear, and Matthew Williams, who joined the Givenchy fold. Who said fashion was slowing down, huh? 

STUDENTS USED THEIR SKILLS TO MAKE PPE

The coronavirus pandemic might have brought the many failings of society into sharper relief, but it also reminded us of the power of community, as people rallied around doing what they could to help those in need. Among them were the fashion students from institutions around the world, who set down their work and used their skills to make protective equipment including scrubs and masks for essential workers. 

KENZO TAKADA PASSED AWAY

Fashion wasn’t without its losses thanks to the coronavirus this year. In October, Japanese designer and founder of Kenzo, Kenzo Takada, passed away due to complications from COVID-19 at the age of 81. Other names passing from the virus included the president of Longchamp and inventor of the Le Pliage bag, Philippe Cassegrain, and luxury Italian shoe designer Sergio Rossi.

FRED PERRY (UNSURPRISINGLY) DENOUNCED THE FAR RIGHT

After shutting down a series of people complaining about the diversity featured on its IG account, Fred Perry denounced Far Right US members of the Proud Boys who had adopted their iconic polo shirt as a uniform. Deeming the situation “incredibly frustrating”, the British label also halted production of the black and yellow top indefinitely in the US and Canada until its association with the group ends. The alt-right org has also taken up wearing kilts made by the LGBTQIA+ owned company, Verillas, which decided to counteract the situation with a donation to the NAACP. 

THE BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS 

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, Black Lives Matter protests spread around the world. As people took to the streets to demand justice for Floyd and others like him, and call for an end to the brutality shown by those employed to protect and serve citizens, photos of American cities in flames flooded social media across the summer. During the uprising, a number of high-end stores were looted – a legitimate form of protest – with Alexander McQueen, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton among them. 

While some stayed silent, others were more vocal, with Marc Jacobs’ showing his support for the action by posting a photograph of his graffitied LA store on Instagram alongside a message reading: “Property can be replaced, human lives cannot.” Fashion faced its own reckoning in the days that followed, as people called out the systemic racism that the industry is built on, and countless brands pledged to “do better”. Time will tell whether they make good on their promises. 

BEYONCÉ DROPPED BLACK IS KING

Back in July, Queen Bey released Black is King, a visual album celebrating Black resilience and culture, written, produced, and directed by Beyoncé herself – which came at a pertinent time, following a summer of BLM protests in response to the murder of George Floyd. When the news came, there was really no question that the album would include some serious lewks – with the singer stepping into a Marine Serre crescent moon bodysuit, a brown cow print look courtesy of Riccardo Tisci at Burberry, and a black feathered look by Saudi brand Ashi Studio, which allegedly took 70 hours to make (not to mention the moment she matched with Blue Ivy in rainbow SS20 Mugler). Just what we needed, tbh. 

HOOD BY AIR MADE A COMEBACK 

After a hiatus following its AW17 show, Hood By Air made its long-awaited return. According to Shayne Oliver, the brand is ready to disrupt the industry once again through exploring the meaning of ‘luxury’ fashion while inviting young BIPOC creatives to join the house. So far, it’s launched the H13A collection, celebrating 13 years of the label – which was seen modelled by Rosalía on IG. We’ll be (impatiently) waiting for more to come.

JOHN WATERS FRONTED A FASHION CAMPAIGN

Another year, another purely unpredictable face of Saint Laurent. This year saw John Waters – the king of all things camp and trash – starring in the label’s AW20 campaign alongside Lenny Kravitz. Lensed by David Sims, the Pink Flamingos director wore a double-breasted suit jacket over a polka dot top, with black sunglasses, and his signature thin moustache. Okay, it’s definitely no Keanu Reeves, but we’re not complaining.

FAST FASHION REPORTEDLY FUELLED CORONAVIRUS CASES IN THE UK

Just when you thought fast fashion couldn’t get any worse, enter: 2020. As COVID cases soared in Leicester, it was reported that Boohoo’s factories were partly to blame. According to a report from Labour Behind the Label, the company experienced 44 per cent growth throughout the pandemic, while workers were forced to continue working in its low-ventilated, non-socially distanced factory – or risk losing their jobs. Whether Boohoo was behind the spike in cases or not, it’s clear that in 2021, changes desperately need to take place.

THE MET GALA TOOK PLACE ON… TWITTER

As this year’s Met Ball joined the long list of fashion events cancelled due to coronavirus (RIP), High Fashion Twitter decided to take matters into their own hands. Gathering up young creatives around the world, the fashion stans resurrected the first Monday in May digitally – filling up Twitter feeds with moodboards, DIY versions of celebrities’ past Met Ball ensembles, and their own take on looks for the event. Looks like the esteemed Anna Wintour invite isn’t as important as we thought.

NORTH WEST PERFORMED AT PFW 

It’s been ten months, and we still haven’t really processed this one. This past March, North West made her rap debut at the impromptu AW20 Yeezy show in Paris. The six-year-old wore Kanye’s signature athleisure wear and sang lyrics like, “You know my name is Northy,” and, “What are thoooose?” Sure, Kanye was happy, but perhaps this is why 2020 was cursed? 

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER RETIRED FROM FASHION 

French designer Jean Paul Gaultier threw the biggest fashion party of the year for his final Couture show. With fashion greats from Christian Louboutin to Nicolas Ghesquière, and (supposedly) Martin Margiela himself sitting in the front row of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the hour-long show was packed with references to Gaultier’s archive and honoured 50 years of his raucous Haute Couture line. As for the runway, it began with Karlie Kloss letting Issa Lish out of a coffin, which was then carried out by a group of male dancers, and followed up with models including the Hadid sisters, Winnie Harlow, Paris Jackson, and the designers past muses, Rossy de Palma, and Beatrice Dalle – who smoked a ciggie as she went – making their way down the runway. Legendary.

A BUNCH OF DÖPPELGANGERS WALKED AT VETEMENTS

In January, Vetements asked us to question celebrity culture at PFW – sending celebrity impersonators down the runway instead of models. On the line-up were the likes of Naomi, Mike Tyson, Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss, and Snoop Dogg. While the chaos clearly drew focus from the collection, the show created a memorable discourse on the worth of celebs in the industry. We spoke to some of the famous-ish lookalikes here.

THREE CURVE MODELS MADE HISTORY AT VERSACE

Jill Kortleve, Precious Lee, and Alva Claire made history at Milan Fashion Week as the first three curve models to walk for Versace at its SS21 show. While their inclusion shows the brand is moving forward towards body diversity, there’s still much work to be done when it comes to representing a wide range of bodies in fashion. We’re looking forward to seeing more brands step up in 2021.