The 21 most major fashion moments of 2021

·9-min read
 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

We’ve (nearly) survived another one!

You could be forgiven for putting 2021 down as another sorry spin around the sun. An utter disappointment as another festive period - which kicked off so strong this November - struggles to make it over the finish line. But you would be forgetting some pretty spectacular fashion moments if you did.

Because amidst the hell of circuit breakers, sealed borders, plan E’s and ‘get vaccinated’ tee’s, there have been some sartorial crackers well worth a cheers. Physical runway shows returned! Netflix’s series blasted all-new beauties into the spotlight! The Awards season stormed ahead, the Met Gala got a September spin-off, Kim Kardashian ditched Kanye for a kinky face covering, and Emma Raducanu thwacked her way into the nation’s hearts.

It might feel bleak at the moment, but join us in looking back at the best fashion had to offer this stormy (but stylish!) year…

Ella Emhoff at the Inauguration of Joe Biden

Ella Emhoff at the Inauguration of Joe Biden (Getty Images)
Ella Emhoff at the Inauguration of Joe Biden (Getty Images)

2021 kicked off how it intended to go on. Bittersweet. Bitter because we found ourselves cooped up in a New Year lockdown, sweet because we sat on sofa’s smiling as Trump left the White House and Joe Biden was sworn in.

And we smiled even more at the outfits. Kamala Harris wore Christopher John Rogers, Lady Gaga a jaw-dropping (and bulletproof) Schiaparelli gown, and Amanda Gorman was introduced to us in that ruby Prada headband. But it was Ella Emhoff, Kamala’s stepdaughter, that made fashion swoon hardest. Having stepped out in a plaid, crystal embellished Miu Miu overcoat, she was signed to IMG Models before the end of January and on Proenza Schouler’s catwalk the following month.

Anya Taylor-Joy at the Golden Globes

Anya Taylor-Joy at the Golden Globes
Anya Taylor-Joy at the Golden Globes

The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix’s champion chess series from October 2020, made the black and white board the game du jour last Christmas. And its leading lady, Anya Taylor-Joy, had the Awards season in checkmate, even when the carpets were online. In February, she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress (remotely), wearing a sparkling green custom Dior Lurex gown and cape, which was 300 hours in the making. Impressive effort levels for a Zoom.

Harry Styles at the Grammy’s

Harry Styles at the Grammy Awards, 2021 (Getty Images for The Recording A)
Harry Styles at the Grammy Awards, 2021 (Getty Images for The Recording A)

It’s been a good year for Harry and his merry band of Stylers – he scooped up his first solo Brit award, got his nipple out on the cover of Dazed, and even turned his hand to nail varnishes – but it was at the 2021 Grammy Awards in March that his trio of faux fur Gucci boas took the fashion crown. Specifically, the moment he flung the lime shade scarf off, whilst shirtless in a full leather suit. Thanks for that one, Hazza.

The Hacker Project

Gucci AW21 in collaboration with Balenciaga (Gucci/Daniele Guidetti)
Gucci AW21 in collaboration with Balenciaga (Gucci/Daniele Guidetti)

What happens when two Kering-owned companies collide? Gucciaga! Formally known as The Hacker Project, April saw logo-mania hit new heights when Gucci’s Alessandro Michele handed over a section of his AW21 to Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia. Out came the latter’s knife boots, but with the GG monogram? Gucci flora print jackets, but with Balenciaga printed across? Happy days for hype lovers.

Olly Alexander performing with Elton John at the Brit Awards

Olly Alexander performs wearing Harris Reed with Elton John at the Brit Awards (via REUTERS)
Olly Alexander performs wearing Harris Reed with Elton John at the Brit Awards (via REUTERS)

There were plenty of points we felt like Gogglebox stars this year. Unpaid, not as funny, but nonetheless glued to ‘lots of great telly’. Russell T Davies’ It’s A Sin was the tearful triumph, as Years and Years singer Olly Alexander played a young man battling AIDS. Taking to the Brits stage with Elton John, the lead sang Pet Shop Boys’ 1987 hit in a Harris Reed crystal embellished lace crop top and flares. Oh, and huge red velvet cape. Camp!

Michaela Coel at the BAFTAs

Michaela Coel at the BAFTAs (Getty Images)
Michaela Coel at the BAFTAs (Getty Images)

The BAFTA’s were about one woman this year, and that was Michaela Coel. Her seminal I May Destroy You, the series she wrote, directed and starred in, swept up a hattrick of awards in June: Best Lead Actress, Best Mini-Series, and Best Director. And she looked the part, wearing a sharp, back cut-out, black dress by London’s quick rising designer Maximilian.

Lil Nas X at the BET Awards

Lil Nas X at the BET Awards (Getty Images for BET)
Lil Nas X at the BET Awards (Getty Images for BET)

The 22-year-old caused commotion in March with Montero, the song that saw him pole dance down to hell. Every stage and red carpet Lil Nas has stepped onto since has altered the face of hip hop and rap music. Nowhere was that clearer than his BET Awards performance in June when, dressed as an Ancient Egyptian in a gold mini skirt, he locked lips with a male dancer on stage.

Bella Hadid at Cannes Film Festival

Bella Hadid at Cannes Film Festival (Getty Images)
Bella Hadid at Cannes Film Festival (Getty Images)

Bella Hadid has made Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet her annual style stomping ground, and proved as much in July. First came the vintage SS02 Couture white and black tulle gown by Jean Paul Gaultier. Suitably lustworthy. But it was the Schiaparelli AW21 Couture dress, cut out over the chest and worn with a lung necklace of golden bronchi, that was (literally) breathtaking.

The first glimpse of And Just Like That…

 (2021 WarnerMedia Direct)
(2021 WarnerMedia Direct)

The beginning of July saw Sex and the City fans rejoice at a first look of the reboot. The glaring, photoshopped image was strange. But Carrie Bradshaw’s Celine, triple buckled, platform heels (not to mention our hopes) were high. Fast forward to December, and the jokes aren’t landing, Mr Big’s dead, and Chris North is facing an onslaught of sexual assault accusations. Take me back.

Valentino’s Fall 2021 Couture

Valentino Fall 2021 Couture (Courtesy of Valentino)
Valentino Fall 2021 Couture (Courtesy of Valentino)

This is a leading contender for fashion show of the year. Most of us watched the live stream, while a lucky audience dressed all in white took their seats at a ship building yard in Venice. As the sun set and British artist Cosima sang, 84 electrifying Valentino designs – vast chartreuse gowns to pink puffball skirts – charged forth. Feather lampshade hats off to Pierpaolo Piccioli.

Olivia Rodrigo at the White House

Olivia Rodrigo at the White House (Getty Images)
Olivia Rodrigo at the White House (Getty Images)

It was all eyes on the White House again come July, when Olivia Rodrigo arrived to champion the Covid vaccine in a 1995 pink Chanel tweed mini-skirt suit, with black socks and ankle busting Giuseppe Zanotti white platform heels. There is little else to be said. Good for you, Olivia.

Tom Daley’s Olympic Cardigan

Griff wears Tom Daley’s Olympic Cardigan to perform at the Team GB homecoming (Getty Images for The National Lo)
Griff wears Tom Daley’s Olympic Cardigan to perform at the Team GB homecoming (Getty Images for The National Lo)

After the Freedom Day postponement, it wasn’t the summer of love and clubbing we had prayed for – but there was always the Olympics. And Tom Daley knitting away in the aquatic centre was priceless viewing. His ‘Team GB’ handmade cardi ought to be in a fashion history collection, and was worn by Griff to serenade the sporting superstars at August’s Team GB homecoming.

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya at the Venice Film Festival

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya at the Venice Film Festival (Getty Images)
Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya at the Venice Film Festival (Getty Images)

On the road for their sci-fi spectacular, Dune, co-stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya stole the Venice Film Festival red carpet. Chalamet was charming in his black sequin Haider Ackermann pullover, matching trousers and cowboy boots, while Zendaya wore a custom Balmain leather gown with a wet-look, skin cling. Bellissimo! Even if she does only appear in the film for seven minutes.

The return of London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week returns (Imaxtree)
London Fashion Week returns (Imaxtree)

Having been confined to the digital since the pandemic began, London’s fashion was back where you could see it for September – in person. And it’s new favourite face was Bimini Bon Boulash. The drag queen, who in March was runner-up of UK Drag Race season two, strutted down the catwalk for Richard Quinn and put a smile on Kate Moss’ face.

FENDACE!

Amber Valetta and Kate Moss walk for Versace by Fendi (imaxtree)
Amber Valetta and Kate Moss walk for Versace by Fendi (imaxtree)

Milan’s Fashion Week went ahead too, and it was Versace and Fendi’s surprise designer switch that made headlines. Donatella’s Fendi and Kim Jones’ Versace erupted into a supermodel storm including Kate and Lila Moss, Amber Valetta, Gigi Hadid, Naomi Campbell, Kristen McMenamy and Mariacarla Boscono. Speechless stuff.

Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala

Kim Kardashian wears Balenciaga at the Met Gala (Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian wears Balenciaga at the Met Gala (Getty Images)

Not even Anna Wintour could halt Covid, so the Met Gala, over which she famously presides, was shifted from the first Monday in May to the second in September. It’s dress code was ‘American Independence’, and Kim Kardashian was the star. Somewhere between divorcing Kanye West, and promoting his new album Donda, she stepped out fully hooded in a Balenciaga t-shirt dress, with pony tail peeping out. You can trust Kim to come up with a Met Gala first.

Daniel Craig and Kate Middleton at the No Time To Die premiere

Daniel Craig and Kate Middleton at the No Time To Die premiere (Getty Images)
Daniel Craig and Kate Middleton at the No Time To Die premiere (Getty Images)

To London! September was finally time for the premiere of new James Bond, No Time To Die, a year and half later than planned. And it was a glitteringly Royal affair at the Albert Hall. Daniel Craig whipped up a frenzy in his pink, double breasted Anderson & Sheppard velvet blazer, while Kate Middleton glistened in her no-sequin-spared, golden Jenny Packham gown.

Emma Raducanu at the No Time To Die premiere

Emma Raducanu at the No Time To Die premiere (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Emma Raducanu at the No Time To Die premiere (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Emma Raducanu became a staple amongst 2021’s most stylish. She aced her way onto our screens during Wimbledon this summer, and ascended to national hero after her US Open victory. The fashion industry took note, as she was swiftly bagged to be a brand ambassador for Dior and Tiffany & Co., both of whom she sported at the No Time To Die premiere.

‘Adele: One Night Only’ in the US

‘Adele: One Night Only’ performance in the US (CBS via Getty Images)
‘Adele: One Night Only’ performance in the US (CBS via Getty Images)

When ‘30’ was projected onto buildings across the globe, the end of the year was looking up. After six long years, Adele was back with a new album. And it came with a new look, best captured by the black silk faille Schiaparelli dress, crystal emblazoned bustier and swinging Saturn earrings that she wore to first perform it in November.

Lady Gaga at The House of Gucci premiere

Lady Gaga at The House of Gucci premiere in London (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Lady Gaga at The House of Gucci premiere in London (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Ok, you’ve seen this picture just shy of one million times now. But the purple, pleated gown from Gucci’s SS22 collection that Gaga spread her wings in is one for the books. Even if The House of Gucci film itself was a little long (and the accents a little off) her dress for the London premiere cannot be forgotten.

Kris Jenner and Tommy Hilfiger at the Fashion Awards

Kris Jenner and Tommy Hilfiger at the Fashion Awards (Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Kris Jenner and Tommy Hilfiger at the Fashion Awards (Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

And finally, wrapping up a hard but hopeful year for British designers, there was a mighty turn out for the Fashion Awards. It began with Idris Elba’s touching tribute to Virgil Abloh, who died on 28 November after his battle with cancer. The prizes followed, Kim Jones won Designer of the Year and Kylie Minogue performed in Richard Quinn. The best surprise guest? That would be Kris Jenner, in her Tommy Hilfiger logo shawl, pictured howling with laughter next to the designer himself, who won the night’s Outstanding Achievement Award. We’ll be taking that energy into 2022, thank you.

See the 21 best fashion moments from 2021 in the gallery above

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