Rachel Marie Walsh pinpoints the style highlights of 2016, from Michelle Obama in gold Versace to Kate Moss in McQueen


The celebrity style moments of 2016

Rachel Marie Walsh pinpoints the style highlights of 2016, from Michelle Obama in gold Versace to Kate Moss in McQueen

The celebrity style moments of 2016

Michelle Obama in Versace

In David Remnick’s “Obama Reckons With The Trump Presidency”, The New Yorker, November 28, the President tells his somber, hollowed out staff that history does not move in straight lines. Sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it goes backwards.

Given that the President-elect has confirmed reports his wife plans to remain in Trump Tower with their son after the inauguration, it seems unlikely the new First Lady’s going to take the East Wing in any direction. That is her right. She gets to define her role.

A First Lady can do something or nothing. She isn’t elected.

Even with Ivanka around, however, I cannot see the Trump White House being more fashion-forward than its predecessor. Not just because Michelle Obama does not hawk a mid-market clothing line that rips off real designers, or even because we all love Mrs O like Kanye loves Kanye.

It is because she’s been a phenomenal communicator and used fashion to that end. I am reluctant to say the Obamas have a brand because of the word’s toxic connotations now a brand’s won an election, but they always seem aware of their aspirational impact.

They are transparent about their discipline in everything from diet and child-rearing to work and social habits. And while he wears the same suit every day— like a uniform that saves time he can spend working — she understands that women’s fashion can be a tool. It garners attention that got her health and educational campaigns more exposure.

Former First Ladies stuck to a handful of labels, but Michelle showcases the reality that American fashion is reliant on immigrants by wearing pieces from foreign-born US designers as well as established names. Naeem Khan, Jason Wu, Thakoon Panichgul and Sophia Theallet take up at least as much of her wardrobe as Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and J.Crew.

One could argue, I suppose, that a First Lady who also wears Gucci and Dries Van Noten is emphasising the distance between Washington Democrats and the disaffected working-class voters Bernie Sanders sought to rally. But she does mix high-street with high-end, often pairing Banana Republic, H&M and even Gap clothing with designer items.

First Ladies are not required to pose as though modelling their gowns so it is hard to find unobscured images of her best look this year (the rose-gold Versace she chose for the Italian State Dinner in October).

Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen at the Vogue 100 Anniversary Party

British Vogue celebrated its centenary this year. Kate Moss, who has graced the magazine’s cover 37 times, wore a sheer Alexander McQueen gown by Sarah Burton to its birthday party at London’s National Portrait Gallery in May.

The Duchess of Cambridge was the commemorative issue’s covergirl and The Sunday Telegraph declared of her pastoral photo shoot “when we look back on the series we will find that the Duchess’s clothes and make-up, the setting and the mood, perfectly captures something of Britain in the Spring of 2016”. But if it’s the fashion — rather than royal or society coverage — that has kept you poring over Vogue UK since before you could pronounce Gucci, Moss is the Kate that marks time. She is as capable of capturing the look of the moment now as she was in Dior in 2006 or Calvin Klein in 1996. The shoot she did in vintage Rolling Stones stage gear for the May issue would be tough to date in extract.

Michelle Obama, Kate Moss and Margot Robbie
Michelle Obama, Kate Moss and Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie in Tom Ford at the Academy Awards

Margot Robbie never gets it wrong on the red carpet, thanks in no small part to super-stylist Kate Young. The former Vogue Sittings Editor is a sort of red-carpet Jimmy Iovine, gifted with an eye for Best Dressed List-topping looks. The Hollywood Reporter pronounced her tinsel town’s most powerful stylist in May, citing choices like the pink Prada slip dress Dakota Johnson wore to the Venice Film Festival Black Mass premiere in September 2o15 (a prescient example of the following season’s return to nineties’ minimalism). Other clients include Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Major press tours she outfitted this year were Robbie’s for Suicide Squad and Felicity Jones’s for Inferno.

I think she does her most influential work with Selena Gomez, whose off-duty looks have become ultra fashion-forward under her tutelage. Day clothes we can emulate, red-carpet gowns not so much.

Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé at the Academy Awards

This exquisite petal and crystal-studded mermaid gown is very similar to the Armani Cate was wearing in 2014, when she took Best Actress for her role in Blue Jasmine. The style was not so lucky for her this time around but she was still one of the night’s great beauties, and how many women can pull off embellished cap sleeves? She accessorised with Tiffany diamonds.

Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton at the Academy Awards

Playing muse to any fashion designer would be fun but Nicolas Ghesquière gives Alicia Vikander such a range of gorgeous looks that it is not always clear they’re from the same brand. The Swedish star has been Louis Vuitton’s ‘face’ since July 2015. LV dresses a number of actresses regularly— Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Williams, Léa Seydoux — but not in a futuristic minidress and high- heeled steel-toed Doc Martens one week and a full-length boho gown the next. Perhaps her tiny frame encourages him to think of her as an actual doll. This custom lemon prom design drew comparisons with Belle’s ballgown in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Cate Blanchett, Alicia Vikander and Beyonce
Cate Blanchett, Alicia Vikander and Beyonce

Beyoncé in Givenchy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala

2016’s Costume Institute Gala happened a week after Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, her second visual album. Dropped it like a bombshell.

The companion HBO special was an 11-chapter tale of infidelity so moving that Amy Winehouse must have been clapping somewhere.

There was gory poetic imagery, awesome choreography, baptism, a baseball bat… And then Mrs Carter showed up to fashion’s biggest night of the year solo and sans wedding ring. Her Givenchy couture, skintight and oh-so distinct from the drenched Gucci ruffles that slow her gait during that Hold Up smash- up, was latex and opaque as her smile.

The design was decorated with hand-painted flowers and real pearls.

She and Kate Moss are in the same corner when it comes to Delphic silences. Let Twitter obsess over Becky with the good hair,” it is water off Bey’s train.

Saoirse Ronan in Calvin Klein Collection at the Academy Awards

Saoirse Ronan dazzled in emerald sequins at the Oscars.

Stylist Elizabeth Saltzman told InStyle that the colour was a priority.

“Her whole family is with her tonight —her mom, her aunt, her uncle — and just like the movie Brooklyn, she has only just moved to New York, so it was important to her to show her Irish pride. There was no other choice.”

Selena Gomez chose this dress in tanzanite for the Grammys (Kate Young strikes again), reportedly for its resemblance to the one Michelle Pfeiffer wears when Elvira asks Tony to dance in Scarface.

Pfeiffer’s dress was run up for the film but has the same halter-backed, haute disco look of a Roy Halston design as Saoirse’s.

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