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2020 In Review: The Tumultuous Year in Fashion

Seven of the most game-changing moments in 2020

( @balenciaga / Instagram )


It’s been… an interesting year for fashion.

In a year where so much has been lost and we reckon with ourselves, it seems trivial to talk about the frilly, colorful things we put on our bodies.

Political movements, life- making moments, and world-turning events have all been mirrored by fashion. To talk about garments without mentioning their creators – their process shaped by the world around them – would be a waste.

Tailored suit pants have been swapped for sweats while more and more legacy houses adapt to a digital world, harnessing social media and video games (Thank you, Balenciaga!) to showcase their collections. They always say hindsight is 20/20, but the fashion industry at times feels at war with itself, exchanging old for new in such a confusing time.

In spirit of the cheesy “new beginnings” mantra creative directors have been hammering their audiences with since couture week in July, here’s the most innovative, game-changing moments in fashion history this year.

Emma Curin As Princess Diana on The Crown

If you’re anything like me, you definitely didn’t really care about The Crown until season four promised a glimpse at Princess Diana and Prince Charles. I’m messy, you know I had to tune into the show on Netflix.

As promised, the show’s costume designer Amy Roberts delivered a delightful look at the U.K. royals throughout the 8-episode run. Roberts’ ease of using fashion as a vessel of communication of broken marriages and power struggles makes her a front-runner for the 2021 award season.

Rather than a direct recreation, Diana’s looks throughout the show were a reimagining of what the late princess would wear. While we’re waiting for season five filled with biker shorts and baggy sweatshirts, it’s hard not to forget season four’s standout looks. Some personal favorites? The yellow overalls and chunky cardigan look from episode one. Episode three’s black sheep sweater from Rowing Blazers is also an absolute must-have. May or may not have preordered the sweater. Let’s match with Lady Di, shall we?

Bye-Bye Fashion Calendar

With the world seemingly changing overnight as SARS-Cov-19 spread across the globe, no industry was left untouched. Fashion and it’s excessive production issues, questionable burnout-inducing tactics, and luxurious garments weren’t spared from the harsh realities that came with the arrival of our “new normal.”

Most counties shut their doors mere weeks before fashion month ended, a final hurrah for the aesthetics lovers of the world before we all boarded our windows and headed inside. Fall/Winter 2020 would never materialize in the way designers had hoped for, but that’s OK.

For those unfamiliar with the schedule of fashion, each year, a label puts on two ready-to-wear shows (although often more) months ahead of schedule for buyers and customers to prepare for the upcoming season’s trends. February’s shows will go to the market in the autumn, while shows held later in the year are for the following spring’s trends. Nevermind cruise, pre-fall, pre-spring, summer and haute couture. As you can tell, it’s a lot.

When COVID shut down production in overseas factories and sourcing became a great concern, designers began vocalizing how a rushed schedule and promises to deliver led to enormous rates of creative burnout and stress on the environment. Creative directors at major houses like Gucci, Iris Van Herpen and Marc Jacobs all called on the industry to change it’s outdated ways.

In response, maisons began to depart from the original schedule, leading to increased flexibility and innovation for presentations. While designers like Collina Strada and Demna Gvasalia used video games to fuel their fantastical creations, houses like Gucci and Alexander McQueen turned to film to propel their Spring/Summer 2021 collections. And then there’s Jacquemus who put supermodels on FaceTime and created a revolution (and inspired countless spinoffs).

Will the traditional runway ever return? If it’s not inclusive of different skin tones and sizes, we don’t want it. We’ll stick to a Bella AI avatar.

When Will Phoebe Philo Return From The War?

Archive TikTok, this one's for you.

Phoebe Philo, arguably one of the best creative directors of all time, left the fashion industry abruptly after establishing a lengthy legacy at both Celine and Chloe. While her protege Peter Do continues a tailoring masterpiece at his own label, the British gal Philo is nowhere to be found. After WWD rumors of Philo’s return surfaced earlier in January, we’re still waiting on the queen’s comeback to save us from tacky Gucci prints and whatever that Heidi Slimane for TikTok collection was.

Phoebe, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that an ugly bitch like Heidi would do that.

Normies Found Telfar

There’s two things in the world I hate: republicans and white hypebeasts on StockX.

Maybe you’re one. Maybe you’re both! If you feel called out by this graf there may be a problem.

When Telfar Clemens’ Shopping Totes skyrocketed to popularity earlier this summer, the promise to buy local and buy Black was on everyone’s mind. With a versatile vegan leather purse, fashion lovers and normies alike were able to invest back into young, talented Black creatives and the colorful communities they built in New York.

And then, the bots came.

The reselling market, a majority-white, rich economy, feels like a new wave of cultural colonization. With direct pleas from Clemens himself to not buy up the product, resellers ran their machines and disregarded the movement for the culture in order to turn profits.

Thankfully, the Telfar crew launched the bag security program to curb the problem (and I got mine!). If you’re waiting for the next restock, you’re in luck. With weekly drops and another bag security program on the way, Telfar is shaping the industry for good.

And if you bought a bag off StockX, your mom is a hoe.

Yes, I Still Want To Murder Emily Cooper

You either love it or you hate it. Or you love to hate it. Either one works with Patricia Field’s delightfully tacky, campy, over-the-top rendition of Emily Cooper in Netflix’s newest rom-com.

As I wrote earlier this fall, there’s a lot to unpack with Cooper’s style on the T.V. show.

Also, how does she have so many Chanel bags with that salary? Can someone please explain it to me? Also, ankle booties are not cute. They will never be cute. Please send them to your nearest landfill or repurpose them. Make them into a flower pot for all I care. But please, PLEASE, never wear them again.

I have a lot of feelings. Clearly.

Presenting, Thierry Mugler.

If 2020 wasn’t the year of old Aeropostale sweatpants we dug out from the back of our closets, it would be the year of Mugler.

The French house, first established in 1973 by Monsieur Thierry, was known for its theatrical, whimsical approach to the runway. Campy looks dominated the house until it shut its doors after 30 years, citing lack of motivation and financial concerns.

In the years that followed, celebrities slowly began uncovering the masterpieces of the house, leading to a full-blown revival in the last five years. Popularized by Kim Kardashian-West’s “Wet” Met Gala look in 2017, Mugler slowly became the go-to brand for celebrities and style icons alike. When not on the KarJenners, creative director Casey Cadwallader ‘s skin-hugging jumpsuits and carefully constructed corsets can be found on Bella Hadid, Cardi B, Meg Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus.

Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 virtual concert this year was all costumed by Mugler, and it was to die for. If you have rich parents or a sugar daddy, highly suggest investing in a piece.

Harry Styles Wore A Dress And Bitches Got Mad.

And by bitches, I mean Candace Owens.

Look, yes, Harry Styles. The Fine Line singer has more than established a fashion image for himself, playing with colors, textures and patterns in a way that seem to suggest a superficial understanding of rejecting “toxic masculinity,” which may just be putting on Erdem pants and Eliou pearls.

Rowdy’s Katie Delk wrote on the dress controversy from a political standpoint earlier this month, but I’m here to say the dress… was not special. She wasn’t cute. Sure, the message is nice, but you cannot deny the impact of cooler, stylish Black men wearing traditionally feminine clothes and not receiving the same praise. Hello? The ‘70s? Flared pants? Dapper Dan? More recently, Thugger wore a lavender ruffled gown by Alexander Tricone on his album, No, My Name Is Jeffery, in 2016. The dress pales in comparison to Styles’, both technically and artistically. Sorry, Hazza.

You can’t outdo the doer!


Ana Escalante is Rowdy Magazine's Editor-in-chief. She likes podcasts, comfortable sneakers and yelling about being a Capricorn. You can reach her on Twitter @AEscalante22 or email her at


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