The Celine Dion award for unexpected fashion icon: Katie Holmes
For many, Holmes, now 40, will remain the awkward but erudite teen she played on Dawsonâ€™s Creek 20 years ago. For others, she is the woman once married to that famous Scientologist who declared his love for her by jumping up and down on Oprahâ€™s sofa. But for followers of fashion, Holmes has become 2019â€™s answer to Celine Dion â€“ with Monica from Friends a close second.
But while Dion whooped and clapped her way to style icon status from the front row of couture shows in 2017, wearing flashy Balenciaga and Off-White outfits, Holmesâ€™s ascent has been all together more low-key. Exhibit A: casually stepping out in a cashmere cardigan worn so louchely that the matching cashmere bra underneath, available from Khaite for $520, sold out in minutes â€“ no small feat for a bra that costs more than the average monthly food shop for a family of four. Exhibit B: a chunky knit cardigan over a denim shirt with black leather trousers worn to a New York fashion show; a high-fashion version of what her Dawsonâ€™s Creek character might have worn for a date with Pacey.
The â€˜most fashionâ€™ flower: lavender
Gypsophila might have had an autumn/winter moment, but it was the floral setting of the 10th anniversary show of French designer Jacquemus â€“ labelled the kind of show â€œthat Instagram was made forâ€ â€“ that had the hearts of the botanically inclined beating the fastest. Hosted in a field in Provence, the soporific fleur de choix was the perfect backdrop for the designerâ€™s oversized blazers, bucket hats and bumbags.
Most impractical accessory: the nano bag
At Paris fashion week in March, the yearâ€™s least useful accessory was carried between thumb and forefinger down the Jacquemus catwalk, bright red yet barely visible. The Mini Le Chiquito, as it is known, became the patron saint of the nano bags trend â€“ utterly useless, they couldnâ€™t even fit your keys, and yet they became highly desirable, representing the ultimate power move. Who needs a massive tote when you have an assistant or car waiting?
Nano bags are the younger sibling of this yearâ€™s trend for extremely specific bags. There was Balenciagaâ€™s Â£600 water bottle bag, bags made to fit lipsticks and others perfectly tailored to fit phones. And the most stylish was part of Paco Rabanneâ€™s retro chainmail collection.
The nano bagâ€™s place in 2019 fashion history was recently cemented when Lizzo pincered a Valentino version on the red carpet at the AMAs. As she put it on Instagram: â€œbag big enough for my fucks to giveâ€.
Most potent accessory: Lady Haleâ€™s spider brooch
When the judge wore this arachnid accessory to announce that Boris Johnsonâ€™s prorogation of parliament was unlawful, people were quick to try to decode what message she might have been hoping to send. Was it that she had caught the democracy-dodging prime minister in a judicial web? Whatever was intended, the spider brooch, described by Vogue as â€œmaximalist perfectionâ€, became a breakout star.
But Lady Hale wasnâ€™t alone in sparking chatter with her brooch. The speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wore a pin representing the Mace of the United States House of Representatives as she opened the debate about Trumpâ€™s impeachment. It was quickly dubbed her â€œpower pinâ€.
An honourable mention must also go to headbands. They might have less political heft than the brooch, but have almost as much historical weight as a Mantel novel, and made Anne Boleyn one of the yearâ€™s unlikely style inspirations.
Menâ€™s style inspiration: TimothÃ©e Chalamet
A sequinned Louis Vuitton hoodie on the carpet one day, an elephant-grey ensemble by Colombian-French designer Haider Ackermann the next; the Call Me By Your Name actor is unafraid of the bold, conceptual and sartorially tricky. But that adventurousness has not put people off. His style has won him the moniker â€œthe most influential man in fashionâ€, according to Lystâ€™s 2019 report, which analyses the behaviour of more than 104 million shoppers. He was pipped to the post of the â€œWorldâ€™s Most Powerful Dresserâ€ only by HRH the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle herself. Proof that the unorthodox can be enviable in the sometimes identikit world of menâ€™s fashion. He even managed to make the worldâ€™s trickiest hairstyle, the bowl cut, an unlikely hit.
Most ubiquitous item: the spotty Zara dress
It cost Â£40, was hailed as being as comfortable as a nightie and was as ubiquitous on the UKâ€™s streets throughout the summer as chewing gum or pigeons. One article in the New York Times even claimed that the Zara dress had â€œconquered Britainâ€, so widespread was it. Plus, like the green Urban Outfitters puffer jacket and RÃ©alisation Par leopard-print skirt before it, it had that most modern of popularity yardsticks: its own Instagram account complete with more than 20,000 followers.
Best red carpet look: Billy Porter at the Oscars
Porterâ€™s own take on the Christian Siriano gown he wore to the Oscars in February rang true: â€œThat dress changed the world,â€ he said. It was a two fingers up to the rigid gender diktats controlling red-carpet outfits â€“ as Porter told Vogue at the time: â€œWhen youâ€™re black and youâ€™re gay, oneâ€™s masculinity is in question. I dealt with a lot of homophobia in relation to my clothing choices.â€ This dress, he said, made him feel free. â€œPeople are going to be really uncomfortable with my black ass in a ball gown â€“ but itâ€™s not anybodyâ€™s business but mine.â€
Hair trend: lilac
This year, palma violets, hydrangeas and Googel the Muppet have been added to hairdresser moodboards across the land. In March, searches on Pinterest for â€œlilac hairâ€ rocketed by 1077%. And then, in May, when Kylie Jenner stepped on to the Met Gala red carpet with hair the colour of Syringa vulgaris, she cemented a trend that would see Instagram awash with lilac tresses long into the summer months. For autumn/winter, the trend evolved into more season-appropriate chocolate lilac hair.
Best heels wearer: Harry Styles
In a year in which Asos sold more than 12,000 pairs of Cuban-heel boots for men, the man with the David Bowie legs takes the crown as most accomplished wearer of such heels, after he wore them with aplomb â€“ and a pearl earring â€“ to the Met Gala in May. Honourable mention must also go to Lil Nas X who wore a chunky fluoro heel to match his fluoro suit, the work of this yearâ€™s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award winner, Christopher John-Rogers, to the American Music Awards last month.
Throwback hit: the Fendi baguette bag
According to the 2019 Lyst report, there was a 164% rise in searches year on year for this 90s classic. For those who can afford it, it is the perfect accompaniment for all the spaghetti straps, slip dresses and balayage tresses that have made up this yearâ€™s retro resurgence. Available for new thanks to Fendi relaunching it, or via the more sustainable secondhand route thanks to resale sites such as Vestiaire Collective, 2019 was the year to channel Carrie Bradshaw via your handbag.
The saddest goodbye: Karl Lagerfeld
His legacy in the wider world might be â€“ to put it mildly â€“ mixed, but the fashion industry this year has been hit hard by the loss of the Chanel designer, who died in February. Known for catwalk spectaculars, it is fascinating to speculate what he would of made of the now infamous YouTube comedian who crashed the catwalk at the first ready-to-wear collection produced entirely by his successor Virginie Viard.
The happiest goodbye: the Victoriaâ€™s Secret show
It was the year in which unrealistic, prescriptive body standards, as championed by the Victoriaâ€™s Secret brand, were pitted against the inclusivity of Rihannaâ€™s Fenty brand, which had its made-for-Amazon debut at New York fashion week in September. And, true to the unstoppability of the Barbadian star in the year in which she became luxury conglomerate LVMHâ€™s first black female designer, Rihanna came out on top. Last month it was announced that the Victoriaâ€™s Secret show would be cancelled after months of speculation.
The most improved garment: the cardigan
When Kurt Cobainâ€™s stained, moth-eaten green cardigan reached Â£260,388 at auction in October it was symbolic of the value increasingly bestowed on this once overlooked garment. Where once cardigan wearers might fear being labelled â€œdowdyâ€, now they can stand proud thanks to the ascent of cardigans to catwalks from Alexander Wang and Chanel to Ashley Williams and Christopher Kane.
Fashionâ€™s favourite author: Willa Cather
Women from catwalks to pavements this year have been wearing frocks that wouldnâ€™t have looked out of place on the prairie. It was the look that wouldnâ€™t give up the Laura Ashley ghost, having kicked off in 2018 with Brooklyn designer Batsheva Hay as its poster girl. In 2019 it went mass, and wearing a dress with a jaw-high neckline, tibia-long hemline and plentiful valance-style dust-ruffle-frills was a quick way to look as if you knew your way around the pages of Vogue â€“ and Willa Catherâ€™s novel O Pioneers!
Most unlikely site of fashion buzz: the North Circular Road
Not usually mentioned in the same breath as fashion industry buzz but the outer London home of traffic jams and self-storage depots became a hotspot this year when a collection by Louis Vuitton menswear designer and Kanye West protoge Virgil Abloh landed at the Wembley branch of Ikea. People queued through the night and the spot gained instant fashion credibility. As one queuer put it: â€œWe are buying Louis Vuitton stuff for the price of Ikea.â€
Most literal literal dresser: Melania Trump
When Melania Trump headed to the UK in June, she did so in an outfit that, in a cod Cockney accent, said: â€œLondon, babyâ€. The Gucci dress was decorated with images of Tower Bridge, Big Ben and a double-decker bus. For the yearâ€™s best example of â€œliteral dressingâ€ look no further than Rihanna at the cricket in Durham â€“ all in white but not a V-neck knit in sight.