It's been quite a year, and fashion and style were at the forefront of some of its most memorable moments. Here's a look back at some of the top ones from around the globe and at home in Pittsburgh:
Across the world ...
Capsule collections galore!: Designer-mainstream department store collaborations are nothing new, but they seemed to hit a new high this year as more and more celebs and fashion elites partnered with retailers such as Macy's, Target and H&M. Some of the most-hyped: Maison Martin Margiela for H&M, Francisco Costa for Macy's, Trina Turk at Banana Republic, and the Target-Neiman Marcus holiday collection of clothes, home goods and accessories from 24 designers. Some companies also started applying this concept to products, such as Evian's Diane von Furstenberg-designed water bottle and the Starbucks-Rodarte limited-edition line of totes, tumblers and gift cards.
Brad Pitt becomes first male face of Chanel: Actor Brad Pitt made headlines, "Saturday Night Live" skits and a whole bunch of money as the first man to represent Chanel No. 5. Industry insiders and fashion blogs speculated that the label dished out at least $10 million on the U.S. campaign, plus another $7 million to secure him. The print and TV ads featuring black-and-white shots of a rugged-looking Mr. Pitt pondering the perfume's resilience in the ever-changing world has garnered its share of snickers and spoofs. But, apparently, it's working.
"Since the Brad Pitt advert for Chanel No. 5 premiered we have seen an increase in the number of men coming in to buy classic Chanel fragrances, both for themselves with Bleu de Chanel and the iconic Chanel No. 5 for the ladies in their life," according to Selina Jones, House of Fraser director of beauty buying.
Ralph Lauren Team USA uniforms spark controversy: The discovery that the Olympic opening ceremony outfits Ralph Lauren designed for Team USA were made in China sparked a whirlwind of criticism and rekindled attention for made-in-America apparel. In response, Ralph Lauren vowed to make sure togs for the 2014 games are USA-made. It also prompted U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to introduce a "Buy America" bill, which will task the federal government with purchasing clothes that are 100 percent homegrown.
Fashion gets political for presidential election: The fashion community -- literally -- wore its political preferences on its sleeve during the run-up to the presidential election with the Runway to Win designer line of pro-Obama apparel and accessories, with contributions from Chanel Iman, Ms. Furstenberg, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Beyonce and Tina Knowles, Tory Burch, Alexander Wang and Rachel Roy, among others. Others expressed support by organizing star-studded fundraisers or making hefty donations to the president or GOP candidate Mitt Romney.
JC Penney makeover: This department store chain's year can be summed up with one name: Ron Johnson. The new CEO came to the 100-year-old-plus company from Apple with big ideas that were as radical to the retail world in 2012 as the iPhone was to the masses pre-June 2007. A sampling of them, at random: replace by 2014 bar codes with RFID tags so customers can swipe their own merchandise, create dozens of in-store boutiques connected by "streets," ditch coupons and promotions for everyday-low price points, and pepper stores with food offerings, such as gelato and coffee stands. Results have been mixed, with the company reporting a third-quarter loss with shares falling 4.8 percent from $20.64. While profits have been slumping, JCP -- as Mr. Johnson has renamed it -- has seen its trendy new moniker surge into the limelight, with WWD recognizing the CEO as its "Newsmaker of the Year."
Style staples celebrate milestones: It was a big year for birthdays, with some of the beauty and fashion scene's crown jewels calling for a celebration. Ray Ban aviator shades commemorated its 75th by re-introducing four classic sunglasses shapes, while a coffee-table book was released for the 15th anniversary of Fendi's Baguette handbag. Colorful plastic storage box Caboodle brought back its original model for its 25th birthday. Famed Fifth Avenue-based jeweler Tiffany & Co. turned 175 with a new setting for its 128.54-carat yellow Tiffany Diamond and the launch of the RUBEDO line of blush-colored accessories. One of the grandest bashes was thrown for luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman's 111 years. A book, documentary and anniversary line of designer wares made up the festivities.
Hedi Slimane named Yves Saint Laurent creative director: Few leadership changes resulted in as much curiosity, criticism and cat fighting as Hedi Slimane's arrival at Yves Saint Laurent. First, there was the name change to Saint Laurent Paris. Next, a streamlined logo to feature it. Then came the announcement of new concept stores in Paris, Berlin and Shanghai, plus a Twitter tiff with New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn after her less-than-glowing review of the spring 2013 runway show (which she blogged about by looking at pictures because she wasn't invited).
Fashion's faults exposed: Through investigations, reports and tell-all books, environmentalists, nonprofits and journalists dug into fashion's closet and uncovered its ugly side. "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion," by Brooklyn-based writer Elizabeth Cline, highlighted the environmental and economical impacts of today's "buy-and-toss" clothing cycle. Reports from Greenpeace International's Detox campaign exposed potentially hazardous substances in apparel tested from Calvin Klein, Mango, Levi's and Zara, among others. It also found in Mexico two major clothing manufacturing facilities dumping industrial wastewater containing hazardous and toxic chemicals. The findings led to Zara and Levi's pledging to rid the release of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020. Last month, more than 100 people died in a fire at a garment factory outside Bangladesh, where clothes for Walmart and Sears were manufactured.
Pittsburgh fashion and beauty front ...
Pittsburgh Fashion Week expands its reach: In its third year, the weeklong event brought its agenda of runway shows and vendors fairs to some new spots, including Oakland and Tanger Outlets. These complemented veteran venues, including the Heinz History Center, Omni William Penn Hotel, The Mall at Robinson, and the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center in Green Tree.
Significant stores say "so long": Saks Fifth Avenue sashayed out of Downtown earlier this year, leaving a gap for a go-to place for high-end designer apparel that other luxury retailers, such as Larrimor's and Nordstrom, have scurried to fill. The designer boutique circuit in Squirrel Hill and Shadyside also saw some departures, with Occasions closing on Forbes Avenue and Linda Bucci set to exit her shop in Shadyside Village after 12 years.
Fashion district planned for Downtown: The city is looking to boost and maintain retailers Downtown. The Downtown Retail Task Force wants to attract businesses large and small to the Golden Triangle, with a women's fashion district planned for the space between Fourth Avenue and Fifth.
Pittsburgher takes home national mustache title: Adam Causgrove, 28, of Mount Washington gave Pittsburgh another title to tout: home of the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year. He received the annual honor awarded by the St. Louis-based American Mustache Institute for earning 67 percent of 1.3 million votes cast over several weeks at www.americanmustacheinstitute.org. He was one of 15 finalists, which included such public figures as St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, "Parks and Recreation" actor Nick Offerman and MLB umpire Jim Joyce. He took to social media and local news and radio outlets to rally support.
City sees multiple shopping initiatives: The city showed off its shops with several efforts to encourage people to check them out. Fashion's Night Out in September boasted a robust schedule of runway shows, style contests, giveaways and more at Century III Mall, The Mall at Robinson, Ross Park Mall, SouthSide Works and other spots. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp. also have been doing their part with a series of late-night shopping events where stores and restaurants Downtown stayed open until at least 8 p.m. on select days and offer shopping and dining incentives.
To have a style or fashion event considered for Stylebook, send listing to Sara Bauknecht at firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published December 25, 2012 5:00 AM