Our second annual Best Of series continues today with a nod to the designers that showcased some of the best collections throughout 2009. Although yesterday’s Best Of: Fashion Trends 2009 feature highlighted some of the hippest catwalk looks, a more in-depth look was definitely required. Our picks below include some of the most talked about players at fashion weeks around the world – from wunderkind Alexander Wang to those lips at Alexander McQueen.
1. Balmain: Christophe Decarnin, the leader designer at Balmain since 2005, continued to guide the French fashion house forward with his younger, edgier vision, making them an obvious choice for our number one spot. In fact, Balmain’s popularity in 2009 grew so steadily that a term, Balmainia, was coined – a fad we are sure will grow in 2010.
2. Rodarte: The Mulleavy sisters continued their reign in 2009 with a steadily growing brand. Kirsten Dunst and Reese Witherspoon added star-status to the label while first lady Michelle Obama offered some political power to the duo when she wore a Rodarte dress in April. To top off their year, the CFDA named them Womenswear Designers of the Year.
3. Alexander Wang: Alexander Wang’s Spring 2009 RTW (above) collection saw the designer turn to color (“They wanted color, they got color!” he pronounced) but Fall 2009 RTW saw a return to black. No matter; it seemed like whatever direction Wang went in, the masses followed and his edgy designs were met with wide acclaim.
4. Alexander McQueen: Whether you loved it or hated it, no one can deny that Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2009 RTW collection was one of the most talked about. For good reason too; the models strutted out with giant ‘sex-doll’ lips and there was plenty of spectacle to go around when it came to the clothes. McQueen wins the award for the most character, undoubtedly.
5. Balenciaga: Soft draping, oversized bows and a hint of underwear were the major themes in Balenciaga’s Fall 2009 RTW collection. While Nicolas Ghesquière’s clothes, with their subtle prints, were distinctly feminine, the shoes had a tougher feel to them and were a play on previous collections with a chunky, heavy look that provided the perfect contrast.
6. Marc Jacobs: One of America’s most creative fashion designers designed a nostalgic ode to New York with his Fall 2009 RTW collection. From the big hair to the bright eye makeup, the velvet dresses to the high-waisted jeans, the collection seemed to be a nod to the 80s and 90s, those years when Jacobs first started designing in New York City.
7. Proenza Schouler: If there is one thing that Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez know, it’s how to keep things sexy and cool. Their low-key yet powerful Fall 2009 RTW collection, with its dark colors, flirty draping and rich fabrics, was testament to this aesthetic and left plenty of modern women lusting over the label.
8. Lanvin: When it came time to design his Spring 2009 RTW collection for Lanvin, Alber Elbaz focused on one thing: keeping it real. The idea worked. In 2009, stars like Claire Danes and Dasha ZHukova both wore the dress we featured above; it’s structured bodice and poufy skirt providing the perfect, feminine silhouette for today’s woman.
9. Isabel Marant: French designer Isabel Marant’s Fall 2009 RTW showing was the perfect modern mix of glam rock and hippie luxe: a mash-up of leopard prints, denim, silk dresses and studded boots (Isabel’s Otway Boot was dubbed the It Shoe of 2009) that left every girl, French or not, wanting more, more, more.
10. Chanel: Chanel’s feminine, enchanting Fall 2009 RTW collection is a must-have on our list if for no other reason than the nail color. The Chanel Jade craze was born of this collection and created a worldwide craze for pale green talons. While the clothes from this collection were perfect, the splashes of green created the echo heard round the world.