Fashion News of 2007
The Fashion eZine - Trends

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Fashion Trends of 2007

Extravaganza is the word that best describes the past year in fashion. Designers celebrated anniversaries with blow-out bashes and spectacular shows staged in exotic locales. The excessive mood, no doubt, was fuelled by a booming luxury business as the mega-fashion brands roared in to conquer new markets where the nouveau riche have a voracious appetite for designer goods.

But amid the celebratory mood, there were a few somber moments as the fashion flock lost a few of their fine feathered friends. And they also took a peculiar interest in the personal life of one of their most talented members.

When the "it'' bag of the moment is an $18 canvas tote touting "I'm not a plastic bag," you might think the tide of fashion has turned decidedly green. And it has, to a point.

The rise of eco-friendly fashion is surely the top trend of the year. But fashion fans also mobbed H&M for cheap, made-in-China togs from Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, king of glitz and glam. And luxury giants like LVMH were racking up double-digit growth, largely through the sale of the fragments of dreams that are handbags and perfume. Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Deneuve flog the ubiquitous LV monogram bags in glossy ads, and people buy them, real or knockoff.

Marc Jacobs, the grunge creator credited with Louis Vuitton's soaring fortunes, was the bad boy of fashion this year, trumping trend headlines by starting his namesake show in New York two hours late - again.

Bad girls with questionable clothes were neither few nor far between, although good Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson wore a bad outfit to the Oscars. And then there were the fashion standouts like Cate Blanchett - again.

1. The green tide

There is no doubt consumers have become more conscientious about their consumption, and businesses have taken note. Organic cotton, bamboo and recycled rags turned to riches for designers and merchants large and small. Giants like H&M and Levi's introduced organic cottons, Montreal jeans maker Second Denim turned to bamboo, and La Gaillarde, a non-profit boutique in St. Henri, became the go-to place in town for all things fair.

That non-plastic tote, by British designer Anya Hindmarch, sold like hotcakes. In London, 10,000 bags were snapped up in 90 minutes; at Holt Renfrew in Montreal, it took two minutes for all 250 bags to sell.

By December, Stella McCartney, the green goddess herself, who introduced the Care organic skin-care line this year, followed up with news of an organic clothing line for Barneys in New York for spring. It's not cheap to be green, though. Prices for the items start at $595 for denim.

2. Fast, faster, fastest

The only thing green at H&M on Nov. 8 was the envy of thousands of consumers in stores across the globe who were not fast or ruthless enough to snap up a piece of Cavalli's onetime collection for the Swedish retailer. While some of the prized leopard-print wispy silk dresses may become collectibles, there is no sign that the speed-of-light trend cycle for almost every garment you buy - made in China under questionable conditions for the environment and human rights, with the consequent obsolesence of mountains of clothing - is slowing down.

The so-called democratization of fashion, in which cheap versions of runway looks come to market, was fuelled partly by designers like Cavalli teaming up with mass retailers, as well as by celebrities. Among the star power labels this year: Madonna and Kylie Minogue for H&M, Penelope and Monica Cruz for Mango, Sarah Jessica Parker with Bitten, Sienna Miller and sister Savannah with Twenty8Twelve, Kate Moss for Topshop, and Victoria Beckham, with dVb, who also made a comeback with the Spice sisters. In Montreal, Philippe Dubuc got in on the act with a onetime collection for Simons.

3. Ste. Catherine rising

With H&M setting up a flagship on the southwest corner of Peel and Ste. Catherine Sts. next year, the transformation of Montreal's main shopping drag will be almost complete. U.S. retailers American Eagle Outfitters and Guess have taken up two other locations on that epicentre corner with massive flagship stores. From Guy to Bleury, new tenants have set up shop and others have polished up their premises or are planning to. Among the new fashion names on the street: Lucky Brand Jeans, Adidas, Reebok, Lululemon, Geox, Ecco, Garage and Quiksilver Roxy. And Apple is said to be planning to open its first Canadian flagship store in the 1300 block.

By 2011, Ste. Catherine will be all spit and polish east to de Bullion St. as part of the $120-million Quartier des spectacles plan.

4. Luxury rising

There seems to be no end to the appetite and wallet for luxury goods, as evidenced by the high-flying fortunes of such companies as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Hermès and Richemont.

LVMH, for instance, posted revenues of 11.4 billion euros ($16.5 billion) in the first nine months of 2007, an increase of 13 per cent compared with the same period in 2006.

That taste for luxury may have prompted the unimaginable extravagance of many fashion shows. Fendi, one of LVMH's stable of about 50 companies, staged its show on the Great Wall of China, as dreamed up by Karl Lagerfeld. Valentino took the Colosseum for his 45th anniversary show, John Galliano marked Dior's 60th birthday at the Orangerie at Versailles, and Pierre Cardin, 85, headed for the Gobi Desert, but forgot to invite the international press, according to Women's Wear Daily.

5. Luxury tarnished

Meanwhile, Newsweek reporter Dana Thomas chronicled the fall of luxury standards in Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster (Penguin Press). She paints a scathing portrait of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault and the brand-buying that made him the world's seventh-richest man, with a net worth of $26 billion. Miuccia Prada comes off as odd as some of her fashions. By mid-December, Prada had announced its long-awaited public offering.

Much of the book dissects the engine that drives luxury: famous-name handbags, many of which are mass-produced in developing nations, particularly China, despite the fiction propagated by the luxury houses that the stuff is so expensive because it is hand done by artisans in Italy and France.

Thomas quotes Tom Ford comparing Vuitton to McDonald's. For her trouble, Thomas was told she would not be invited to the Vuitton show in Paris this fall.

6. Top dollar

It was a feast of fashion for many consumers as the Canadian loonie soared, hitting a modern-day record of $1.10 U.S. in November. Canucks cross-border shopped in droves, by driving south or hitting the Web for bargains. Considerable anger at Canadian merchants who were not passing on the savings from the strong loonie seems to have had an effect: markdowns and sales are widespread on items from books to designer fashion.

7. Cash infusion

While luxury and mass fashion were thriving, the Quebec fashion industry was not. At Montreal Fashion Week this fall, the Quebec government allocated $29 million in new support for designers and manufacturers, part of an $82-million, three-year plan to promote Montreal as a fashion capital.

8. Shines and misdemeanours

It was the usual hijinks on the red carpet, with Cate Blanchett emerging as the stuff of fashion legend with her beaded metallic one-shoulder gown by Armani Privé at the Oscars. Nicole Kidman was no shrinking violet in a fire-engine red column with giant bow by Balenciaga, and Reese Witherspoon, newly single, looked her best ever in a ruffled chiffon strapless gown by Nina Ricci. Katherine Heigl, Eva Longoria and Helen Mirren also sparkled.

On the other hand, the shine on Jennifer Hudson's silver bolero was too much for some.

She "looked like maybe she was going to meet some astronauts," Allen Schwartz, the king of the knock-off dress, told me from L.A. "She needed a relaunch after that dress."

And what about Posh at the Spice Girl reunion concert in London this month? Earth to Vicky: the space age is over.

For truly wicked commentary on the stars' getups, there's no better blog than Go Fug Yourself.

9: Runway best

Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Balenciaga, Prada - the stuff of dreams came from these names on the international catwalks this year. Alber Elbaz of Lanvin led the way with luxurious silk duchesse dresses in jewel tones for fall and billowing bright frocks for next spring, while Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens of Nina Ricci became the one to watch with his poetic, dusky wisps of silk tunics and gowns. For next spring, Balenciaga and Prada forecast a true flowering of fashion.

In Montreal, the fall edition of fashion week, which took place in March, held a pleasant surprise: the return to the city of Joseph Helmer, who had done 20 years of couture in Paris and presented a collection to show off his considerable skills. Then in fall, Montrealer Rad Hourani wowed the international press in Paris with a black, seasonless, androgynous collection, and was named one of fashion's top 10 contenders by

10. Trend tornado

It's getting more and more difficult to keep up with the trends as they change with the daily deliveries at your local fast-fashion emporium. But mini-dresses and tunics ruled for much of the year - before they give in to midi lengths for spring. Skinny pants and leggings paired with tunics were a stylish option, but wide-legged trousers à la Katharine Hepburn were also cool. Volume as wide as a ship's sail took hold for spring dresses, but deflated somewhat by fall. The little black dress remained the truest measure of chic, but cocktail dresses in rich shades of magenta, cobalt and emerald emerged as a choice. In fact, it seems fashion is all about choice today - you take your pick from the tornado of trends, and hold your head high. Everything goes.

11. Happy birthday Pucci!

Fashion blew out a lot birthday candles this year. Pucci celebrated 60 years. Dior staged a theatrical couture show at Versailles to honour the house's 60th. Ralph Lauren celebrated his 40th with a show and party in Central Park and Valentino celebrated 45 years with a fashion fest spread over a weekend of galas and a show in Rome this past summer. Shortly after this high note, the designer announced his retirement. Iconic fashion items also reached milestone status. The Fendi baguette turned 10 and those tighty whitey briefs from Calvin Klein made it to 25.

12. Fashion is a spectator sport

This year fashion shows reached epic Cecil B. DeMille proportions. Not to be outdone by the couture show John Galliano staged at Versailles, Karl Lagerfeld turned the Great Wall of China into a giant runway for a special Fendi show. And Pierre Cardin chose the Gobi desert as his show locale.

13. Conquering new markets

Fashion companies rushed for a piece of the new-money pie in emerging markets like India, Russia and China. And they are doing so with startling speed. Ralph Lauren opened two stores at the same time in Moscow. And it wasn't just the luxury brands. Fast fashion chain H&M opened its first store in China.

14. Designing for the masses

It seemed like every other celebrity needed a clothing line to call their own. But while some were a sure fit for fashion (Sarah Jessica Parker and Sienna Miller) – others were seriously misguided (Paris Hilton and Victoria Beckham) in thinking they're a style icon to be emulated.

Among the more successful pairings this year was Kate Moss and the British high street chain Top Shop. But despite being a revered fashion icon, Moss was hauled over the coals by some purists who argued that her collection was just copies of items in her own wardrobe, including freebie clothing sent to her by designers. Like the chain mail dress she wore in the Coco Mademoiselle perfume ads. Well did they think that people would buy her stuff if didn't look like she would wear it? Duh.

Another collaboration was Roberto Cavalli and H&M. The collection sold out around the world in a few hours one day in November. Here at the Eaton Centre store, people trekked from as far as Hamilton and went feral for his signature animal prints. A few entrepreneurial types grabbed armfuls of merch off the racks and proceeded to offer to hand over items in exchange for $20, despite much pleading over the PA from frazzled staff.

15. Departed for a heavenly runway

The stylist Isabella Blow committed suicide in May, leaving the front row a lot less colourful. She of the madcap outfits and surreal hats, left a fashion legacy that included being credited for discovering such talents as Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy.

Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre also passed away this year. He was often referred to as `fashion's architect', not only because he trained as one, but because there is no one else who could cut a white shirt like he did, taking it from basic to baroque with the most dramatic and sculptural of collars and ruffled cuffs.

Liz Claiborne also passed away and will be remembered as the go-to designer for career women in the '70s.

16. Project Runway comes to Canada

The successful franchise debuted in Canada this fall with top model Iman as host. This homegrown production reflected the rich cultural mosaic of Canada, both in the lineup of competitors and judges. And while it was great to have a goddess as beautiful as Iman at the helm, one couldn't help but wonder if there was a lack of Canadian fashion icons available to host. From all appearances it seemed slick and successful and the surprise winner was, not one of the heavyweight contestants from style-centric Toronto or Montreal, but a young man from of all places, Saskatoon. Canada – even in fashion – truly a mosaic.

17. Model news

Naomi Campbell proved she didn't need a catwalk to strut her stuff in March. Convicted for assaulting her maid with a cell phone, the original supermodel showed up each day of her five-day community service sentence at a sanitation garage in New York, decked out in some elaborate designer garb, including a glitzy Dolce and Gabbana evening gown.

Knowing that her entrance and exit each day would be documented by the relentless paparazzi, La Campbell cleverly orchestrated these spectacular wardrobe changes, which was essentially a fashion shoot that was later featured in W magazine. Never let them see you sweat baby.

Another model who made headlines was Canadian Irina Lazareanu who got engaged to Pete Doherty, the bad boy rocker perpetually-being-charged-for-drugs and ex of Kate Moss.

18. David vs. Goliath

One book published this year attempted to burst the luxury bubble. Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas, a Newsweek fashion writer, is an exposé of the greedy corporate culture of designer brands.

It's a world where quantity overrules quality and there are coverups of exactly where designer items are actually manufactured. Gives new meaning to the words "fashion victim".

19. On the Marc

The designer who made the most headlines this year is undoubtedly Marc Jacobs. He went from bookish to the-body-beautiful. Slim and trim, Jacobs revelled in his newly worked-out body, posing almost nude on several magazines covers. But this upbeat sexy outlook from the designer did not sit well with most of the fashion industry – his designs after all are not known for being overtly sexual.

Suddenly fashion's golden boy was crucified in the media for his two-hour late New York show in September. The collection was equally panned and praised. Okay, so those sheer dresses left many shaking their heads trying to make sense of it all.

The media glare extended into the drama in his private life – stints in rehab, an ex-hustler boyfriend. And then there was the well-publicized feud with an International Herald Tribune fashion critic who reputedly said she would love to strangle him with her bare hands. This all played out over two continents – both in New York and Paris, where his Louis Vuitton show was also late, featured more weird looking outfits and saw him trooping out at the end and sticking his tongue out.

The outcome? We can't wait for his shows next season!

20. Long gloves and fashion glam

You only have to look at the fashion accoutrements that are the big winners this season – long gloves, big statement necklaces, over-sized clutches, knuckle-dusters, even dramatic matte lipstick – to get the message: grand slam glamour is back.

Women are returning to dressing up. And for the party season, they've tucked that little black dress at the back of the closet and are opting to leave the house in an elegant long evening gown.

Canadian designers are heeding the call, and many upped the glam quotient in their fall collections.

"There's been so much short short lately, it is great to bring it back to some glam classic gowns like the screen sirens of the '40s," says Toronto designer Arthur Mendonça.

Another local designer who has seen an increase in orders for drama at his atelier is Thien Le.

"This year, everyone is opting for full-length gowns," says Le, who operates a custom-order studio and is renowned for his glamorous eveningwear. "Last year, they all wanted cocktail dresses. This year, they are all ordering full-length."

Why the return to floor-sweeping entrance makers?

Le credits the boisterous economy, the healthy Canadian dollar and the increasing numbers of balls and galas in Toronto.

"I couldn't sell a long dress before. I would try to get my clients to wear one but I would hear, `I have no place to go wearing that,'" he says. "Now, apparently, they have places to go."

Kirk Pickersgill, one half of the design duo behind the hot label Greta Constantine, also credits the sizzling social scene for the need for dressed-up, grown-up attire. "There is so much happening here in Toronto right now, with all the building frenzy," he says.

Lida Baday, another designer who had evening gowns in her collection this season, cites the celebrity factor for driving women to add glamour to their lives.

"People are seeing celebs in their full gala gear and are looking to have glamour in their own lives. When a woman chooses to wear a gown it signals that the occasion is special and it's a special night," she says.

Opting for full-length evening dresses raises the bar, not only in sophistication and glamour, but also the attention that will have to be paid to the details – hair, makeup and accessories. To get the full Cinderella effect, you have to go all the way, from head to toe.

And that allure will pay off. "Wearing a gown will definitely get you noticed. It's also a chance to experience a new look. When you get that invitation and an opportunity to shine – go for long," says Pickersgill. "You'll be the one that will be photographed and talked about the next day!"

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