And your winners for most-searched fashion designers of 2013 are, according to bing : Victoria Beckham, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren!
In the “When I Was 17” schema, Victoria Beckham is a blue-blooded girl of independent means; it was a very good year. Both of her shows this year demonstrated an impressive drive to push herself beyond the clingy Goddess of Net-a-Porter look; whereas her first collections had suggested she might be an Anglican attempt at Roland Mouret, she showed a stellar parade of menswear-inspired coats for Fall 2013, and played with volume for Spring 2014. She also had that marvelous profile in T, in which she came off as simply beyond. “She declined the suggestion to include a plate of grapes or some such in the picture. ‘We don’t want anyone to know I eat,’ she said. ‘Why ruin that?’” That sly admission, a ‘behind the scenes’ disclosure played out onstage, belies an astute awareness of her image that suggests she could easily do all the things she wants. “I want an empire,” she told T, and it’s not hard to see how the land is there for her taking.
Still, such a lofty amount of curiosity about her surprises. Nothing particularly scandalous happened in her personal life this year; if anything, she’s managed to pull off the Olsen twins trick with more aplomb, since her image and line are far more public than that of our golden-haired lasses and their line, which has the aesthetic of an Upper East Side cult that believes we ought to rebuild the Carlyle every 20 years, like the Ise Grand Shrine. This is the year Beckham really became Victoria Beckham, Designer, and then Footballer’s Wife, and then Mother, and then Small Woman Teetering with Giant Handbag. Her clothing is not my aesthetic, which is to suggest that it’s not stuff for fashion-heads who might consider Acne tame, but weird is not usually what maketh the empire.
Michael Kors, on the other hand, comes as no shock. In fact, Kors had a banner year: though his space-age sportif Fall 2013 stuff went blah!, Spring 2014 was one of the best collections shown in New York by far. This was real-deal, patented American sportswear, with ’40s swingy skirts and trousers that made you realize Katharine Hepburn was really the only woman walking on two legs when she declared her preference for pants and pants alone. Skinny belts looked like divine innovation. It was the rare treat when you watch a fashion show and want to wear it all not because you want to become The Woman, but because you get the feeling you already are. That’s Michael Kors’s gift. Then there was the Vanity Fair profile in which something like 100 beautiful women couldn’t seem to say enough great things about him, another season of Project Runway, and the fact that his business is booming. His name was served up again and again as the standard of success in discussions of Tory Burch or Marc Jacobs going public.
Third is the one with the hairy chest. Compare Kors with Lauren and it becomes clear that Lauren is an uncompromising snob, and that’s where the first eyebrow raises. I think his men’s clothing is the Snapple of American menswear–made from the best stuff on earth–conservative but charming, tailored for an actual male human with shoulders and a chest and legs that say, “Tennis, anyone?” But I’ve never been able to sign on for his women’s clothing. Thing is, even if Kors isn’t your bag, his gift is accessible because it’s simple, and it’s hard for a young woman to swallow ruffles and whistles if they aren’t done with some wit.
Then add in all the other big, billowing fashion news that happened this year and both eyebrows are up. What about Tory Burch, who’s resolved her courtroom drama and is reportedly going public? Or Marc Jacobs, who exited Louis Vuitton and is poised for world domination or whatever? And what about Galliano? His tour de mea culpa was the most exciting thing of the year! There’s even going to be a puppet show about it! I don’t see Ralph Lauren with any puppet show. No siree. And if any of these three do have one, it’s Beckham who’s got the world on a string.