Mirror, Mirror: Memorable moments in fashion in 2013

FILE - This Jan. 21, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at an Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Nobody would call bangs a new trend, but when the first lady's involved, things take on more significance. In fact, President Barack Obama did call his wife Michelle's new hairdo the most significant event of his second inauguration. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
FILE - This Jan. 21, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at an Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Nobody would call bangs a new trend, but when the first lady's involved, things take on more significance. In fact, President Barack Obama did call his wife Michelle's new hairdo the most significant event of his second inauguration. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Posted: December 26, 2013

Red-carpet highlights - like the dazzling Armani Privé gown Naomi Watts wore to the 2013 Academy Awards - are definitely worth noting, but fashion moments they do not make.

A fashion moment is the ensemble that's the day's watercooler conversation, or perhaps the week's meme. It's a sartorial snippet in time that challenges our notion of style, makes us shake our heads, or nudges us to possibly tweak our own look.

From Miley to Kim-ye, here are my picks for the top fashion moments of 2013.

Yes, the first lady has bangs. Michelle Obama sent style watchers into apoplectic shock in January when she appeared at a Martin Luther King Day event in bangs. We fawned or frowned for months, but Obama grew those bangs out, and by late summer, her shoulder-length bob was back to its shiny old self.

Then she amazes in a Thom Browne coat. The navy checked coat Obama wore to her husband's swearing-in ceremony elicited more chitty-chat than the evening's cherry-colored Jason Wu inaugural gown. Obama styled it with a J. Crew belt and purple leather gloves. (Browne, by the way, is an Allentown native.) The coat's hourglass shape foreshadowed what would become the silhouette of the year - the fit-and-flare.

The pontiff keeps his style simple. Less than 24 hours after Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio assumed the title Pope Francis in March, he ditched the fancy red papal shoes and the red stole. His accessories - silver crucifix and gold-plated ring - were simplified to his liking, too. And he continued to walk the walk: Pope Francis has been lauded for being more merciful and less condemning.

Lilly Pulitzer dies at 81. The matriarch of the preppy King of Prussia-based brand was credited with turning pink and green into the hautest hues of casual living. The unhappy housewife-turned-fashion designer rose to fame shortly after schoolmate Jacqueline Kennedy was featured in a 1962 Life magazine photo spread wearing a Pulitzer pattern.

Miley Cyrus twerks in flesh-toned leather. The collective "eww" that ricocheted through the Twitterverse over her August MTV Video Music Awards performance is still audible. It was the barely-there one-piece that made the twerk especially horrifying and sent parents of Cyrus fans into a tizzy.

Kim Kardashian's entire pregnancy. The fashion police spent the first part of 2013 scolding Kardashian for her too-tight maternity outfits. Top offender: the Givenchy floral print gown she bravely wore to the Met Gala in May.

Royal baby style. The July arrival of Prince George set off a local British invasion in children's-wear stores as graphic onesies featuring double-decker buses and Union Jacks flew off the shelves.

Mall-ification of Walnut Street. Rents continued their steady climb on Walnut Street between Broad and 20th Streets, leading apparel chains with deep pockets to move in. Within just a few months, Theory, Stuart Weitzman, and Madewell opened their doors.

Joan Shepp moves to the Shops at Liberty Place. After months of uncertainty, Joan Shepp left Walnut Street in September for a temporary 3,000-square-foot space in Liberty Place. How long will the iconic boutique stay? Shepp will decide whether to sign a permanent lease early next year.

Phashion Phest turns 20. Philadelphia's longest-running fashion event, sponsored by model-turned-entrepreneur Sharon Phillips Waxman, celebrated its 20th birthday in September. The theme was "20 is the new black."

Made-in-America becomes the new 'it' label. The local marketplace saw a spate of designers creating, manufacturing, and selling fashions in Philadelphia. Dozens of new lines - including Curran J. Swint's Kings Rule Together Ts and Kate D'Arcy's Toggery - touted made-in-America cachet this year.

Grace Kelly comes back home. Doylestown's Michener Museum scored a coup in October as the only venue in the country to present "From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly Beyond the Icon." Locals saw the clothing and accessories - including the Hermés bag - that turned their girl next door into one of the world's biggest fashion plates. The exhibition runs through Jan. 26.

Dom Streater wins "Project Runway." Twenty-four-year-old designer and Moore College graduate Dom Streater became the first local designer to win Lifetime's reality show since Jay McCarroll won in its inaugural season. Streater's bold prints are featured in January's Marie Claire.

SA VA is shuttered. Sarah van Aken stunned the local fashion community when she closed her Sansom Street boutique SA VA in mid-December. It had been touted as the city's best example of a vertically integrated, ethically sourced business. Van Aken had a difficult time finding skilled workers to sew her collections, and eventually couldn't afford making her wholesale line locally.

Racial profiling continues. A few of the nation's largest retailers, including Macy's and Barneys New York, had a tough time this fall believing people of color could purchase their most expensive items legally, and accused shoppers of stealing. In late November, Jay Z released a ridiculously expensive collection, exclusive to Barneys, that included $2,590 leather boxing shorts and $875 python-brimmed Brooklyn caps. Who does Barneys think is buying this stuff?

Honorable Mention

Rihanna gives new meaning to 'bedhead.' To preserve their bobs, black women often wrap their hair around their head and secure it with bobby pins before going to bed - where no one will see them. At the November American Music Awards, Ri Ri did the look with style: Her bobby pins were jeweled.


ewellington@phillynews.com

215-854-2704

@ewellingtonphl

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