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

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit