The good, the bad, and the ugly
No Oscar gown, meteoric career crash, or red carpet catastrophe could compare to the fashion story of the year. In fact, there was so much puffery and excitement surrounding the royal wedding that it could easily be mistaken for the fashion fable of the decade. A princess-in-the-making, a wedding dress, a fetching sister with a Dickensian name, and a squid hat enraptured the planet - at least for a day. But while the freshly minted Duchess of Cambridge and her Alexander McQueen gown had the masses flapping their Union Jacks, 2011 produced other gasp-worthy style moments. Here are a few of the hits, and the very messy misses.
Boston Fashion Week hits the big(ger) time
At the beginning of 2011, a group of local style mavens and business magnates began talks to give Boston Fashion Week a proper home. For years, the week was burdened with a reputation of being a disjointed clunker. But in September, a proper tent was erected behind the Mandarin Oriental and local designers could at long last show on a runway rather than a hotel lobby. The downside? The prolonged summer sent temperatures inside the tent soaring. That was coupled with runway shows that sometimes felt longer than an awkward family dinner. Still, it was an impressive sashay in the right direction.
Priscilla of Boston gets left at the altar
The decades-old company, and a Boston institution, announced that it would shutter by the end of this year. Bridal experts blamed the closing on multiple sales and acquisitions that left the company without a focus. In the 2000s, the company was passed from Federated Department Stores to David’s Bridal. Others blamed a weak economy. Regardless of the reason, the closing was a sad end to the legendary shop started by Priscilla Kidder, an internationally known designer who dressed Rockefellers, Fords, and Nixons.
The year of Alexander McQueen
An exhibition of McQueen’s work broke records at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this summer as more than 660,000 visitors waited in long lines to see the exhibition. The museum stayed open late and opened Mondays to accommodate the throngs. It was the museum’s eighth most popular exhibition. In addition to McQueen protege Sarah Burton designing Middleton’s wedding dress, McQueen’s work started a kerfuffle when Michelle Obama showed up at a White House state dinner in a McQueen, much to the chagrin of Oscar de la Renta, who complained that Obama should be wearing American design.
The downfall of John Galliano
An intoxicated Galliano was arrested in Paris for making anti-Semitic remarks in a cafe. He was suspended from his post at Dior (and later fired). A few days later a video surfaced of Galliano praising Hitler. The dethroned designer blamed his behavior on pills and alcohol and promptly went to rehab. In September, he was found guilty of making racist and anti-Semitic comments and charged a fine of 6,000 euros ($7,800).
Boston gets a slew of new home stores
Interior design enthusiasts were treated to new arrivals such as Addo Novo and a second location of Reside in the South End. That was in addition to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and the Jamaica Plain-based Room 68, which sells the work of emerging furniture makers. Along with locally owned design stores such as Hudson, Bostonians have more opportunities to decorate without trudging through the same old chain stores.
Restoration Hardware announces it will move into the former LouisBoston space
The high-profile building designed by William G. Preston once housed the New England Museum of Natural History. Now it will become a store for McMansion-scale furnishings. This was a prime opportunity for a major retailer (or retailers) to occupy a flagship location with grand character. Instead, the street is saddled with a dull mall shop.
A Boston designer finally gets a shot on ‘Project Runway’
Arlington designer David Chum showed up in the first episode of “Runway’’ last July, and we were ready to be dazzled.
A Boston designer doesn’t make it past the first round on ‘Project Runway’
Our shoulders dropped with disappointment as Chum was booted from the show before the competition even started.
Spotted on the red carpet
Red was the dominant color at both the Oscars and the Emmys. Celebrities such as Lea Michele (pictured) and Kate Winslet showed how blazing scarlet can be the perfect accessory for flashing camera and Ryan Seacrest. Actresses Michelle Williams, Reese Witherspoon, and Halle Berry defied the trend with grace. Williams’s demure Chanel gown demonstrated how an award show gown can be both understated and sensational. And after years of disasters, “Mad Men’’ star Christina Hendricks finally found the perfect red carpet look.
Reluctantly spotted on the red carpet
There must have been something strange in the punch bowl at this year’s Grammy Awards. Not only did Lady Gaga hatch from an egg (above), but Cee Lo Green became a human muppet and dueted with Gwyneth Paltrow. Scarlett Johansson didn’t manage to do much better at the Oscars in a dress that looked like a doily dipped in beet juice. Mila Kunis was even worse in a lavender dust rag. And will someone please hire January Jones a decent stylist already?
Kate Middleton’s wedding dress
It may have looked deceptively simple, but Middleton’s French chantilly and English cluny lace dress was a timeless sensation. Designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, the ivory and white satin gazar gown was intended to emulate the silhouette of a blossoming flower. Those working on the dress washed their hands every 30 minutes to make sure fabric and thread remained pristine on the gown. The stunning Middleton even drew comparisons to Grace Kelly in the gown.
Princess Beatrice’s octopus hat
The true sign of a sartorial disaster is how quickly it is transformed into a Halloween costume. In the case of Princess Beatrice’s mollusc-like head gear, the adaptation came swiftly. The homely Philip Treacy-designed hat threatened to upstage the Queen Mother at the royal wedding. The hat spawned its own Facebook page, and eventually sold for $130,000 on eBay in a charity auction. It also made many drag queens very happy on Halloween.