Ah, 2021. Just as we were easing out of living la vida loungewear, venturing out and even traveling, Omicron hit. But, though we can only predict how fashion will evolve in 2022 with this new variant, here are some of the most memorable fashion moments from 2021.
Filipino fashion went phygital
By 2021 Filipino fashion designers and artisans had found ways to pivot from the 2020 devastation wrought by the pandemic and offered their wares in the ways they felt most comfortable: either on digital platforms or live events that followed strict health protocols, like the Katutubo Pop Up Market. Either way the trend of us supporting local and sustainable fashion became much easier in this new “phygital” realm.
Joe Biden’s inauguration
When Joe Biden was inaugurated as US President on January 20, 2021, the event ushered in not only a new era in American politics but also support for young, emerging American fashion designers who exemplify diversity and sustainability.
At the ceremony First Lady Jill Biden wore a custom dress and coat by Markarian, while US Vice President Kamala Harris wore a purple ensemble by young Black designer Christopher John Rogers.
But it was young poet Amanda Gorman who stole the fashion spotlight in a bright yellow coat and red headband by Prada as she recited Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of the Morning.” (The Prada headband later sold like hotcakes, by the way.)
Zendaya, Harry Styles and Dua Lipa became fashion royalty
Zendaya and her stylist Law Roach have been 10-for-10 on the red carpet, serving up unforgettable looks that have culminated in the young star’s receiving the Fashion Icon award at last year’s CFDA Awards.
First there was the nude, sculpted-leather Balmain dress for the premiere of Dune at the Venice Film Festival. She’s since worn a metallic breastplate by Loewe, draped sequins by Rick Owens, and next-gen Azzedine Alaia.
Her male equivalent is fellow singer-actor Harry Styles, who works with stylist Harry Lambert. Styles grabbed attention with his December 2020 Vogue cover, and since then he and Lambert have come up with one gender-bending Gucci look after another, from feathered boas at the Grammys to frilly dresses on tour.
The apex was “Harryween,” a Halloween concert weekend at Madison Square Garden where Harry came as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, complete with picnic basket and ruby slippers.
Another singer, Dua Lipa, started off as most Gen-Z pop stars do, in oversized hoodies and streetwear. Also fond of Y2K-inspired looks, crochet and rodeo glam, she was officially crowned fashion’s new queen at Milan Fashion Week last September, where she opened and closed Versace’s runway show.
More recently she wore custom Vivienne Westwood to the Brit Awards and created a cult-like obsession around VW’s Victorian pearl choker, which went viral.
Fashion reigned in film and TV
The popularity of Squid Game spawned not only Halloween costumes but also a bonafide trend involving retro tracksuits and white slip-on sneakers.
Other Netflix series in which fashion has played a major role include Emily in Paris, The Queen’s Gambit, Bridgerton, and Halston, which resurrected the glitzy disco aesthetic of the Seventies.
Cruella, a fictional origin story about 101 Dalmatians villainess Cruella de Vil, nonetheless had real fashion cred with Emma Stone playing a fledgling designer whose breathtaking creations were by Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan.
The film House of Gucci, starring Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci and Lady Gaga as his wife, Patrizia Reggiani, has yet to be released, but anticipation among fashionistas is running high. Costumer Jancy Yates revealed that in 54 days of filming, Lady Gaga never repeated an outfit once.
HBO also has its share of influential series: Succession has redefined modern power dressing, while Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That promises to be as bold and directional as the OG series.
The Met Gala returned
After almost two years, the annual Met Gala resumed in September 2021, celebrating couture and a return to live events.
While there were many memorable outfits, perhaps the most arresting were that of Kim Kardashian, who arrived fully shrouded in black Balenciaga yet was still recognizable — perhaps because of her signature sleek ponytail or the silhouette of the butt it grazed?
Another head-turner was rapper Lil Nas X, who donned three outfits — all of them gold looks from French fashion house Balmain.
Collabs became more high-profile than ever
Designers shot fresh inspiration into storied houses by “hijacking” each other’s brands, like Alessandro Michele of Gucci and Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, who created The Hacker Project, a collection of hybrid creations that infuse Balenciaga silhouettes with Gucci codes.
Then there was Fendace, a fashion swap between Donatella Versace and Kim Jones of Fendi. The two celebrated their friendship and the cultural impact of both brands by designing collections for each other.
Fendi also collaborated with Skims, Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand, to create a modern capsule collection of underwear and body suits.
Style icon Iris Apfel is celebrating her 100th birthday with a colorful collab with H&M, offering haute-couture pieces at fast-fashion prices that will drop this year.
Finally there’s Kanye West’s Yeezy x Gap, which released the Round puffer jacket and hoodies last year and was so in demand that orders nearly broke Gap’s website. Expect the rest of the collection to arrive this year.
Billie Eilish’s Vogue cover
Fans couldn’t believe that the goth girl with black and green hair, who would hide her body under baggy clothing, suddenly came out as a self-described “classic, old-timey pinup” in a revealing pink corset, with platinum blonde, Old Hollywood tresses.
But the idea for the internet-breaking shoot was all Eilish’s, based on a fantasy she had. Touted as an icon of body positivity, she chose the corset because “if I’m honest with you, I hate my stomach, and that’s why.” Whatever the case, the June 2021 cover quote said it all: “It’s all about what makes you feel good.”