The year 2013 in review: Fashion was at its best when it was boldest this year

Hirings and firings made many of the fashion headlines in 2013. But there was something for sensation-seekers on the catwalk, too, if you knew where to look
  • @AlexanderFury

The year was dominated by the machinations of the fashion system. Then again, so was 2012. But whereas 2012 saw long-rumoured redundancies made fact, and long-empty positions filled (Hedi Slimane’s installation at Saint Laurent and Raf Simons’s appointment to Dior, respectively), 2013 was more unexpected.

Rossella Jardini, head of Moschino, left abruptly after almost 20 years on the job. Marc Jacobs terminated his 15-year tenure at Louis Vuitton, Emma Hill left Mulberry after six, and Brit Stuart Vevers jumped ship at Loewe to take up the helm of American accessories juggernaut Coach. Designer Christian Lacroix made a joyously unexpected return to fashion to helm the revived house of Schiaparelli, albeit for a single season. Marco Zanini left Rochas to take up the role permanently. And those are merely in the past six months.

Big business has dominated the year’s news: in January it was announced that luxury conglomerate Kering had purchased a majority stake in the Christopher Kane label, the first London label to garner such investment since the then-Gucci Group took a controlling stake in Alexander McQueen back in 2001. This was followed in autumn with news of similar investment by LVMH in the footwear label Nicholas Kirkwood, and JW Anderson.

On the catwalks, the year was dominated by similarly bold statements. Miuccia Prada’s winter womenswear 2013 collection was a tour de force, referencing her archives – with a cast including former Prada campaign and catwalk models, such as Esther de Jong and Kirsten Owen. Alongside her season-defining turns at Miu Miu and for the menswear arm of her company – whose profits soared by 44.9 per cent – it was no wonder she was awarded the first International Designer Of The Year award by the British Fashion Council.

Bold brings us to Hedi Slimane, who continued to provoke the fashion press in 2013 with his audacious – some might say brash – reworking of the house formerly known as Yves Saint Laurent. In March, he revived grunge, then in October chose to rampage through the Saint Laurent couture archives. Critics still scratch their heads – the ones invited to the shows, at least. A number, such as the New York Times’s Cathy Horyn, have been summarily banned by Slimane.

You couldn’t get bolder than Marc Jacobs’s finale at Louis Vuitton, a funereal parade of plumes based on Cher’s 1986 Oscar outfit topping an almost entirely black collection, presented in a mash-up of Jacobs’s Vuitton sets past. It was devoted, he said, to the showgirl in us all. Which really is what the year in fashion was about – the stylistic showgirls and showmen who get you agitated, annoyed, elated and excited about fashion, again and again.