FASHION / Communiques: Fashion hasn't had a great year: poor sales, retro-inspiration. But for these four it was their best yet

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The Independent Culture
THEY'VE been at it all year. In fact, as far as popular memory goes, they've been at it since 1965, when Bob Dylan tossed off the words to 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' one by one on bits of card in Don't Look Back. The 'conceptual' message-card has been adopted by the fashion world this year in imitation of the ex-Goldsmith's student Gillian Wearing's art-project - getting passers-by to scrawl their words and have their picture taken on the street. Her work has been shown in Milan, and Italian Vogue and The Face have already paid their dues. In the case of Italian Vogue, with a rather more luxurious adaptation - for 'passers-by' read most of the fashion illuminati, plus Nan Kempner, the original social X-ray, and retro rocker Lenny Kravitz. For 'artist', read photographer Stephen Meisel. So what could be more obvious than to replicate the idea with four people for whom, in the world of style and glamour, 1992 has been a huge success.

Sex - what else? - has been the biggest fashion story this year, whether it was Madonna's book / video / album or Marky Mark's continued exposure of his knicker elastic. This has gone down such a storm that - as predicted on these pages last year - this year he became the latest in a long line of hunkies to promote Calvin Klein underwear. The Face called him 'The Madonna of rap'; Smash Hits voted him the sexiest man in pop.

After world boredom with the Christy-Linda-Naomi-Cindy show, Kate Moss was the breath of fresh air designers and photographers alike were looking for. Her exquisite little heart-shaped face returned us to the Seventies of Ingrid Boulting and Biba. Liz Tilberis took on Anna Wintour, as the editors of the two US giant glossies - Harper's Bazaar amd American Vogue respectively - slugged it out to buy up star photographers Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier and Steven Meisel (final score: Bazaar 2, Vogue 1). And Karl Lagerfeld? Well, it's always his year isn't it? So hard to remember who else there is in French couture. This year he got a new house (that gave gilt a whole new meaning) and illustrated a children's book. Title? The Emperor's New Clothes, silly.

(Photographs omitted)