It’s always slightly difficult to capture a year in fashion, art, and design and – Yet. – here I am, doing that difficult thing.
It’s mostly difficult because things like art are impossible to see in any sweeping way and design is often too snooty and myopic of a world for people to even have “noticed.” But, again, here I am, trying. 2017, keep gifting us whatever bullshit you got!
No.: Ikea Bag Fashion
This was an awful fake-but-real trend born out of Balenciaga ironic riffing. It was equivalent to the current Tide Pod trend: a joke that some took way too far, killing the fun for everyone.
No. No, No, No.: Gap’s 90’s Archive
Nepotism: the collection. But also? The collection just…sucked. Gap’s collaboration with AMI was better than this. Just do that.
Most Interior Fun: Jaime Hayon’s Stone Age Folk
Yes, this was only for select people at a specific time and place to see but what a fun, ridiculous mashing of high end interiors with clown faced works. It’s my dream furniture, really, designed in a funhouse showroom.
Favorite Art Story: Artsy’s “What Happens If You Break an Artwork?”
I often wonder this because I’m a nugget of walking stress and, thanks to smart writers and a lawyer, Artsy gave us the answer. Rest easy, little art breaking me!
Best Gender Push: Esmaa Mohamoud & Qendrim Hoti’s One Of The Boys
A delightful exaggeration of male culture by turning basketball jerseys into ballgowns. The performance involved looked equally as riveting too.
Hottest Design Clique: Formafantasma
These guys are blowing up and their off-the-wall lighting designs – and often queer takes on interior formalities – easily make the stuffy world of interior design thrilling. They’re going to have a quick Design Within Reach crossover soon.
Best Sensory Experience: The Toiletpaper Bar at Milan Design Week
Can I live in this place? I should have lived in that place.
Ubiquitous: COS X Studioswine
Not only were they at Milan Design Week but they popped up again at Art Basel with the same presentation. Perhaps this is the nature of the brand’s year long collabs but it left me hungry for more (or, at least, a dang fragrance).
Collab Of The Year: Gosha Rubchinskiy & Burberry
Was there an outfit that was more me? No, there was not. That Gosha X Bur shorts suit and hat demanded to be on my body and it still hasn’t been on me. What the fuck?
Most Impressed With: Ini Archibong
Archibong is like Tom Dixon but cooler. Here’s hoping his work becomes more ubiquitous!
Retail Story That Made You Go Hmmmm: Ann Patchett’s “My Year Of No Shopping”
The thought of shopping less has been on my mind a lot lately since, well, the world is ending.
Biggest Art Snaffu: Dana Schutz at The Whitney Biennial
What happens when a white painter depicts the open casket of Emmett Till? Nothing happens…until the work is put on display at The Whitney without any context. This was a classic example of curatorial decisions happening within a vacuum, a handling of a mishap done extremely poorly, and an all around loss for artists and intersectionality in art. What a disaster.
Biggest Fashion Advance: Edward Enninful Goes To Vogue
This, friends, was such a bright spot in an otherwise terrible industry for identity. His debut issue was timeless too!
Best Fashion/Politics Crossover: The Outline’s “How Fred Perry Polos Came To Symbolize Hate”
While all the takes on Melania’s fashion choices were “good,” they were exhausting. The fashion/politics crossover that fascinated me all year were takes on hate groups and hateful people and how they dress. This Outline story is no exception. I wish I wrote it.
This is both the best and worst design story of 2017.
The “DIE.” Award: The Museum Of Ice Cream
This is so bad for art, for museums, and for ice cream. Also? Bad for the planet.
Best Backhanded Political Commentator: Robin Givan
Givan’s Washington Post column was a bright spot in political analysis because it truly was via fashion and aesthetics instead of being the other way around. From her musings on Chelsea Manning in Vogue to Louise Linton and class to Dior and feminism to Melania and sleeves to the American aesthetic now, Givan did it all. She became a fashionable weather vane for these times.
Best Runway: AMI’s Purple Carpet
Best Exhibition: Comme des Garçons at The Met
Pour It Out: J.Crew
They died this year, officially. It’s sad. It’s so, so sad.
The Future Is Now Award: Balenciaga
The brand was everywhere this year, snatching the crown from brother brand Vetements, and their Fall 2017 collection asserted that one can have fun, make references, and be in the future while being in the now. This collection was what I imagine the new Blade Runner looked like.
Dumbest Shoe Trend: Balenciaga’s Dad Shoe
Balenciaga women? Perfect. Balenciaga men? Go home.
Worst Knockoff: That One Project Runway Guy Ripping Craig Green
Most Holiday Spirit: Marc Jacobs’ Valentine’s Day Campaign
How adorable was this? Referential, silly, and ultimately a great little commercial.
Most Addictive Insta: @diet_prada
Salt bae, who? This was the saltiest Instagram who was equal parts identity police, fashion critic, and gossip columnist. If you aren’t following them, gotta follow them.
Cancelled: Stefano Gabbana
In a fucking stupid identity politics mishap, noted Trumper and racist Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana shunned his sexuality by releasing a shirt that says, “I’m Not Gay, I Am A Man.” Cancel these motherfuckers.
Worst Designer / Worst Brand: Alexander Wang
Not only was Wangfest a nepotism parade of really boring wares but it carried on Wang’s entitled dilettante schtick that is just too old to be cute anymore. Some tigers – particularly tigers who don poor people drag – don’t change their stripes.
Best Debut: Shayne Oliver for Helmut Lang
Perhaps the smartest collection of the year, Oliver’s transference from Hood By Air to Helmut Lang brought a necessary excitement and sexuality and edge to the otherwise goth leather brand. His work at Lang has not only been exciting but has ushered in exciting faces into the mix. Bring it, Shayne.
Best Show Of 2017: The Whitney Biennial
Problems aside, the 2017 Whitney Biennial was a showstopper. It was packed with ideas and – Surprisingly! – almost every work included felt urgent and important. Spanning nearly the entire building, the show was a thrilling survey that made you want more. The drama with Schutz aside, it truly felt like a finger was on a pulse for Americans, which is quite surprising given how the show likely changed course in a post-Trump America. Bravo. (But, seriously, y’all fucked up the Schutz stuff.)
Best Work: Samara Golden’s The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes & Kamsai Washington’s Harmony of Difference
Both of these works from Los Angeles artists at the Biennial were captivating, expansive, and otherworldly. For Golden, the artist created a literally multi-tiered expression of contemporary isolation that seemed to implode New York City. For Washington, the artist created a synergy of diversity via music and images that appear to be so far apart yet housed within each other. Both works left you breathless and, in reflecting on them, they still make me emotional.
Best Collection of 2017: Balenciaga’s Fall 2017
Brand Of 2017: Balenciaga
Are you surprised? I just gushed about them over and over and over again. Demna Gvasalia may be beyond his half life and, yes, so much of his creations have been delightfully knocked off but his reign somehow continued in 2017. I’m curious what 2018 will bring – The win of Eckhaus Latta? Wales Bonner’s reign? The death of Yeezy? – but I have a feeling Balenciaga will continue to grab eyes with truly smart stunts like dad shoes and Ikea bags. Stay tuned.