NEW YORK -- It was a year for pixie haircuts, chunky flat shoes, bangs on our first lady and bare skin ... lots of it, on movie actresses and pop stars. Fashion always has its royalty, and this year, Kerry Washington was a queen. For real royalty, we had Kate Middleton, making the rest of us mortals feel a little better by flashing her mommy tummy. If Kate made us feel good, Lululemon didn't, when its chairman appeared to blame women's own bodies for problems with those popular yoga pants. A look back at these and other key fashion moments of 2013:
Nobody would call bangs a new trend, but when the first lady's involved, things take on more significance. In fact, President Barack Obama actually called his wife Michelle's new hairdo the most significant event of his second inauguration. Unveiled just in time for the festivities, the new hairdo made enough news to have its own (unofficial) Twitter account, FirstLady'sBangs, which issued alerts like "Just got a text from Hillary Clinton's side-part."
Queen of the runway, airwaves and everywhere else:
By the time she appeared in a lovely Stella McCartney floral frock and high red leather pumps as a judge on "Project Runway," it was clear: In the realm where Hollywood meets fashion, Kerry Washington is royalty. On her hit show, "Scandal," playing professional fixer Olivia Pope, she was all professional Washington -- Washington, D.C., that is -- but on the red carpet, she was glamour personified. Case in point: that Marchesa gown she wore at the Emmys, all cream and white and flower appliqués, fit for a queen.
Kate makes us feel great:
Much has been said about the fashion sense of the Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, but in 2013, it was something a bit different that caught our eye. Peeking out under her blue-and-white polka dot dress as she emerged from the hospital post-childbirth was a pronounced "mommy tummy," a normal development but something most celebrities keep under wraps, until their personal trainers have whipped them back into magazine-cover shape. Thanks, Kate!
Lululemon, not so much:
Remember those popular yoga pants that had the unintended effect of being see-through? Well, ladies, turns out the ongoing fabric problems with those pants, including pilling, was YOUR fault. Or rather: the fault of YOUR THIGHS. Founder and chairman Chip Wilson of Lululemon Athletica noted in a TV interview that "Frankly, some women's bodies just actually don't work" for the pants, because of thighs rubbing against fabric. Now Wilson just actually won't be working as chairman of Lululemon; the company announced his resignation from the post in December.
Taking it all off:
No thigh-rubbing problem for Gwyneth Paltrow, who was happy to show just how little cellulite she has when she appeared at the "Iron Man 3" premiere in a dress with sheer mesh panels on the sides, leaving little of her lower body and, er, posterior to the imagination. But we all nearly forgot about Gwyneth when we saw actress Jaimie Alexander at the "Thor" premiere, her black gown expanding the see-through effect to the midriff and upper regions. Let's just say these actresses are saving money on underwear.
A Paris runway show full of mournful symbols -- and lots of black -- was designer Marc Jacobs' somber goodbye to Louis Vuitton in October after 16 years in the influential post of creative director. Under Jacobs, who also has his own eponymous brand, Louis Vuitton became the most lucrative fashion house in the world, in part thanks to Jacobs' creation of a ready-to-wear line. He was replaced by Nicolas Ghesquiere, formerly at Balenciaga.
Taking designers to task:
Iman and Naomi Campbell are legendary supermodels, but this year they lent themselves to something different: promoting diversity on the runway, by calling out designers whose catwalks were almost completely white. The two women joined modeling agent Bethann Hardison in their Balance Diversity campaign. Explaining their purpose, Iman, now 58, said she was shocked to hear there were fewer black models on the runway than when she stopped modeling in 1989.
The message was unmistakable: At the Karl Lagerfeld haute couture show in Paris, the designer sent not one, but two brides down the runway for the finale. The brides walked hand in hand in their feathery concoctions, a clear vote of support by the designer for France's gay marriage law. The show came only nine days after hundreds of thousands of people marched in Paris in opposition to the law.
We got the punk:
Who knew that punk would become high fashion? That development seemed to crystallize in May, when the hallowed halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a new Costume Institute exhibit, "Punk: Chaos to Culture," celebrating a movement that embraced anarchy in the 1970s. "Despite its best intentions, punk has come to symbolize integrity and authenticity," said curator Andrew Bolton.
The flat shoe, the pixie cut:
Think short, ladies! In shoe stores this year, you could see a trend toward flats, including a notable reinterpretation of those chunky Birkenstocks. The first ripple effect would be comfort, of course, but the changes are more profound, notes Virginia Smith, Vogue's fashion market and accessories director: "Every woman wants a flat right now, and that has a big impact on fashion because it changes proportion." Another trend: pixie hair, on everyone from Michelle Williams to Anne Hathaway to Jennifer Lawrence. "It will have an effect beyond celebrity and the runway," Smith says. "A lot of these women are very influential."
Speaking of influence, dare we call Miley Cyrus a trendsetter? She was already a trailblazer with her pixie cut from 2012, but hey, you probably were too busy watching the stuck-out tongue, teddy-bear leotard and nude bikini (which falls into the baring-it-all trend at the MTV Video Music Awards). Only weeks later, though, she was all elegance in sequined Marc Jacobs at the Night of Stars gala. Miley the fashion icon? Not by the standard definition. But heading into 2014 she was one of the most-watched people on the planet. "Blurred Lines," indeed.