When asked to write this, my mind flicked through a myriad of events and fashion shows that were lauded and dissected throughout the decade. I thought of moments including Alessandro Michele’s A/W 15 debut, Rihanna’s Gao Pei 'Omelette' gown, Kim Kardashian’s Givenchy wedding dress and Raf Simons’s teary Jil Sander farewell. However, all of them have wilted with time in my memory. Trying to pinpoint pivotal moments in an industry that is based on changing every 6 months (at least) is no mean feat. The pace of an industry that has only sped up in the last 10 years means that looking back at it is rarely beneficial to the event in question. If fashion is all about presenting the right thing in the right place at the right time, only the strongest and most poignant events remain impactful years later. Here are my top five moments and movements of the decade, ones which signified seismic changes in the industry, or lit the path for others to follow.
Started by a young group of creative polymaths, #BEENTRILL# was a mythical project that confused and delighted newly spawned Instagram aficionados. Formed in 2012 by Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston, Matthew Williams and Justin Saunders, the origins were simple: the group were in London and couldn’t find a club that played trap music. After playing a few sets in wherever would let them behind the decks, wearing simple graphic t-shirts designed for the occasion, the rest is history. The floodgates opened and any street style star worth their salt was dripping in the collective's molten fonts and bold hashtags. Their parties were some of the best of the decade and the list of collaborators and fans of the group goes on. Despite the decline of what was at one point the most exciting and transgressive t-shirt line in the fashion-biz, each member has since found their own success. From the meteoric rise of Abloh's label Off-White and recent position at Louis Vuitton mens, to the rise of Williams' brand 1017 ALYX 9SM, the #BEENTRILL# gang have kept rising through the ranks. However, what makes the double hashtag so important was that it paved the way for fashion to live online. #BEENTRILL# was the perfect storm, tapping into a new market of information hungry teens via their Instagram feeds whilst simultaneously proving to the fashion establishment you didn’t need a Masters in design or a fashion week to make clothes that customers genuinely cared about. But one question still remains, can you hashtag a hashtag? ##
2. Skepta x Nasir Mazhar (2015)
Whilst the 2010s was rife with meaningless ‘X’s, few collaborations have signified a shift in attitude like British rapper Skepta and designer Nasir Mazhar’s S/S 15 menswear get together. Even though Skepta was on the cusp of world domination, he still found the time to create a soundtrack for Mazhar’s show at the BFC show space in the Old Sorting Office. A new guard of streetwear was waved in as Skepta took to the catwalk wearing Mazhar’s S/S 15 Roadman jacket. Some of fashion’s exclusivity barriers began to crumble. The industry hardly bat an eyelid when A$AP NAST sauntered down Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton rainbow runway in 2018, but back in 2014 the appearance of a grime legend on the fashion runway caused a stir between fashion kids and roadmen alike.
3. Margiela Mens Artisanal (2018)
Paris, June 2018: a watershed moment for menswear. Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh’s anticipated debuts at Dior and Louis Vuitton battled it out for top billing and most others on the schedule were left to sheepishly admit defeat, fading from our memory. Step in John Galliano. Never one to be overshadowed, he presented Maison Margiela Artisanal for men. An idea that he had been sitting on for over a year, Galliano had waited to unleash his Artisanal on the world when the time was right. An 80’s club kid decadence took a new Gen-Z format via second skin-like patent trousers, bias cut mens tailoring, tufts of marabou feather and sprinklings of Swarovski crystals. It was a smorgasbord of references and concepts that other houses wouldn’t have dared show under menswear. The whole world’s fashion press was watching Paris, and Galliano’s Artisanal show did not disappoint. The show was a synergy of old and new, high and low, male and female and it felt original and exciting. It was the perfect ode to the times we are living in: bold clothing that actually stands for something. Isn’t that, after all, what real fashion is for? The show itself was two hours late owing to journalists (myself included) stuck in the worst traffic Paris has to offer. To add to the drama, the Maison Margiela PRs called the Paris Mayor's office, who kindly granted Margiela show-goers permission to use the bus lanes en-route to the Rue Saint-Maur venue. An undeniable fashion moment.
4. Demna Gvasalia's Vetements Exit
During Paris Fashion Week in January 2014, a buyer told me about a small fashion collective he had recently discovered and showed me a lookbook shot in an awkwardly ordinary Paris flat with beautifully considered basics tuned up with subtly subversive styling cues. By that evening, I couldn’t escape the name, it was all anyone would talk about: Vetements. Rumour has it that their showroom was only open for 48 hours and buyers had to place orders on the spot. It’s hard to pin-point one moment in the label’s meteoric rise and fall, but what would fashion in the 2010s be without them? It didn’t take long for the industry to sniff out the collective’s figurehead, Demna Gvasalia, the Georgian designer who had trained at Maison Martin Margiela and Louis Vuitton. Fast forward through a SnoopDog drama, DHL memes, Chinese takeaway fashion venues, ‘VETEMEMES’, Tabi shoe-gate and Balenciaga appointments. Demna announced his departure from the brand in September 2019. Vetements has come full circle in the most Vetements way possible: six years after that infamous lookbook, we will soon see the brand return to a collective format for the upcoming A/W 20 Paris mens shows. What’s next for the label? That’s a story for another decade.
5. Chanel A/W 19, Karl Lagerfeld's last show
The house of Chanel showed the last collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld two weeks after the legendary designer passed away during the A/W 19 womenswear shows. As the sound of David Bowie’s 'Heroes' drifted across the snow dusted dreamscape, tears started to fall whilst press and friends gave Karl a final standing ovation. I will never be able to summarise the feeling in that room as the models walked out for the last time, but it was a privilege to be there and a moment I will never forget.