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
University Edible Garden, Leeds – a sustainable garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
newsFrom a former custard factory to a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
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

    Retail Business Analyst

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Ecommerce/Retail/E...

    Project Coordinator

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Embedded Linux Engineer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz