Review of fashion in 2012: All aboard the haute express

'The Louis Vuitton steam train stands as a leitmotif for the industry'

Not one to hide his light, Marc Jacobs' autumn 2012 show for Louis Vuitton in March featured a full-sized, bespoke stream train, which models in Poiret-esque coats and cartoon cloche hats boarded, accompanied by porters weighed down with monogrammed luggage.

It stands as a leitmotif for the industry this year, the lavish departures and loaded decampments, nostalgic reveries despite relentless onward motion through changes of scenery, names and temperament. And that's before we even consider the whirligig of trends that the past 12 months have also thrown up.

Three new appointments, three new aesthetics – all of them at the very hautest levels of fashion, the very pinnacles of prestige – as Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane and Alexander Wang take the reins at Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga respectively. The latter is a relatively new piece of information, announced last month; the former two have been picked over ever since John Galliano's exit first set the merry-go-round spinning in 2011.

Simons' final show in February after seven years at Jil Sander was one of those rare marvels: a collection that was as understated as its impact was obvious. The third in a triptych of couture-inspired, ineffable collections that had seemed to many an open pitch for the spot at Dior, there were mid- century bustier dresses made modern with sharp geometries; Fifties-era double-faced blanket coats, in camel, blush-pink and crimson made fitting going-away outfits. Its aesthetic coherence, a functional but formidable fragility, characterised the whole genteel mood of the season, and both audience and auteur shed tears during a heartfelt standing ovation.

In Paris the following month, Stefano Pilati's Saint Laurent swansong was touching – here was a designer who has for a decade managed the difficult task of fitting his own personality and that of his illustrious forebear into a line that never felt compromised or divided, or in any way diverted from the founder's original message of strong, progressive femininity. So many of the label's commercial successes under his tenure – the Muse and Downtown bags, the Tribute pumps – already feel so much a part of the sartorial canon that fashion fans became fraught at the idea of them falling out of production with Pilati's departure.

When Slimane – erstwhile photographer and the man whose skinny silhouette at Dior Homme famously encouraged Karl Lagerfeld to go on a diet in the early Noughties – took over in March, his intention to break with the recent past was clear. The change of name to 'Saint Laurent Paris' was intended to recall the label's very first incarnation in the Sixties – instead, all it seemed to do was start a chain reaction in the summer that culminated in October with a show that many deemed disappointing, and some even desultory. Slimane reworked the Saint Laurent archive according to his own back catalogue: skinny suits and boho flashes, jewel-coloured gowns and scatterings of safari that were masterfully made but not immediately arresting.

Simons' debut at Dior earlier that week, however, signalled the rise of a new power in Paris. Dior, for so long at the forefront of fashionable fantasy by sheer dint of Galliano's brain, had lagged without anyone to steer the ship: what Simons presented, in elegantly worked holographic organdie that made up wrapped tops, tunics and delicately-printed bell skirts in homage to the founder's New Look line, was a restrained but feminine vision – one that entranced critics and cool kids, but also this label's decisively bourgeois fan base of customers.

And Sander's return to her own label this autumn felt like another smooth transition, an evolution of what Simons had instigated in her absence, with a retro-futurist nod to the work of Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges in a palette of rust and midnight. That's right, not red and blue.

If that didn't make for a tense enough segue into autumn, the announcement that Maison Martin Margiela would be creating a capsule for H&M in November worked shoppers into a frenzy; it came on the back of a collaboration with Versace earlier in the year, as well as a capsule by JW Anderson for Topshop in what was a strong year on the high street, despite Philip Green's daughter Chloe (of Made in Chelsea fame) making her debut this spring as a footwear designer at – you guessed it – Topshop.

Finally, the strangest trend of the year: the wedge/trainer hybrids popularised by French designer Isabel Marant and now copied ubiquitously. They're wrong – terribly wrong – but somehow also just right (for another month, perhaps). And the biggest fashion mishap? Angelina Jolie's rogue leg on Oscar night, crooked at the perfect angle and totally preposterous for that.

But back to Marc Jacobs and his Louis Vuitton steam train – all aboard for 2013!

@Camillalong I have genuinely just come across a book entitled, "Fifty Hats that Changed the World"

Camilla Long, journalist

@LibertyLndnGirl Nothing makes me crosser than people who think that in my job I just flit around air kissing & stroking my high heels

Sasha Wilkins, fashion blogger

@hilaryalexander Reason why London Fashion Week is different+sustains a 20 billion industry is because WE CAN DO IT, Stella MC's show was pure London

Hilary Alexander, fashion writer

@stephenfry Are onesies the new Twilight? I've put in a order for a cheetah and a monkey. Dare I use them in the street I wonder?

Stephen Fry, broadcaster

@PennyRed Must remember that whatever Cosmopolitan and my mother say, winning at clothes is not the same as winning at life. #deadline

Laurie Penny, columnist

@Lorraine ELLE Witnessing fashion history@Dior. To beautiful and breath taking to describe by tweet. It wd do such a show disservice

Lorraine Candy, Elle editor

@KarlLagerfeld I think tattoos are horrible. It's like living in a Pucci dress full-time

Karl Lagerfeld, designer

@susiebubble When will the fetishisation of far-removed industries (fishing, mining, farming, wood-chopping) in menswear end?

Susie Bubble, blogger

News
Jeremy Clarkson
people
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own