2012shift
Style

12 Reasons Why 2012 Was The Year Of Gaudy

May these enormously amusing, super-fun fashion movements continue well into 2013 and beyond. (Except for two gaudy trends that need to die.)

1. 1. Crazy pants were one of the biggest trends of the year — and they’re not going away.

From left: Net-A-Porter.com, ShopBop.com, Bauer-Griffin (Beyoncé)

This summer was nothing but a giant blur of bizarre pants, if you ask me. Everything else I normally remember about summer — that one gross sunburn, dolphins frolicking in the ocean, snow cones — took a backseat to all the wonderfully fun pants apparent everywhere on everyone every single day. Probably because you could wear all those summer memories on your pants! Bright pink pants, dolphin-print pants, or even ombré pants. If you could dream it, or if it ever appeared on wallpaper, you could wear it on your legs.

Though the trend seems silly enough to be fleeting, it’s not: Crazy pants remain more popular than ever. Printed denim will be a big trend into spring of next year, but instead of a predominance of florals and neon, expect to see more striped, tie-dyed, and — yes — snakeskin styles. Juicy Couture even currently offers a style of pants that is leopard and plaid at the same time. And as Maureen Lippe, marketing expert and CEO of Lippe Taylor, said to me the other day, “Aren’t you dying for a pair of gold jeans?” Now that I think about it? Yes.

3. 2. The rise of Zuhair Murad

Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, and J. Lo all wearing Zuhair Murad.
From left: Tim Whitby/Getty Images, Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Zuhair Murad is a designer based in Lebanon who makes very sparkly, visually confusing formal dresses (and jumpsuits). His label is not a fashion person’s label, meaning it’s not “cool” in the intellectual way that labels like Givenchy or Suno are cool. Murad’s clothes are not avant-garde or interesting as much as they are just very LOUD and SHINY and sort of perplexingly not pretty all the same. In other words, they’re more pageant, less runway. But they’ve become a staple of leading actresses and divas who have to walk red carpets, even though I really doubt most fashion editors would suggest they wear this stuff.

But when you have Kristen Stewart, a face of Coolest Label Ever Balenciaga, wearing a sequined Zuhair Murad jumpsuit on the Twilight red carpet, you know the guy is a force — and more power to him, because nothing spices up a carpet and gives us Internet writers something to talk about like one of his bizarre creations. If his clothes do anything, they get you noticed, which in this age of social media– and reality TV–fueled solipsism, is a really important thing. So every time you see a really famous lady on a red carpet wearing a crazy, sparkly dress that is mesmerizing but not necessarily because it’s good-looking, look up the designer and 90% chance it’s Zuhair Murad.

5. 3. The “Real Housewives” are getting richer, shinier.

From left: Via ThomasKramer.com, Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Over the past couple of years, Bravo has seemed to focus on pushing out the less wealthy housewives in favor of blatantly wealthy housewives who are always encrusted in diamonds from hoof to head. So even if you’ve bored of the same ghastly personality types they’ve managed to exploit for years and years across many cities now, you can at least tune in for the wealth porn. The richer the housewives are, the gaudier they tend to dress (there are exceptions, like the wonderful YOLANDA from Beverly Hills, who seems to favor matte fabrics). I don’t think people watch the show wanting to look like these women. In fact, I think we probably watch to be glad that we’re not like them in any way at all. But the more popular this new breed of apparently legit rich housewives becomes, the more the eye adjusts to that level of tackiness, and the more easily it can assimilate into mainstream non-housewifeian society.

Already, Housewives’ fashion seems to be taking hold of red carpets. Here you see Real Housewives of Miami’s Joanna Kruppa encrusted in sparkles at a dinner party she attended on the show, which taped waaayyy before Kimberly Cole wore the same sparkle crust (embarrassing!) to the American Music Awards just recently.

7. 4. Reality competition shows perpetuate crazy diva style on a whole new level.

From left: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images, Trae Patton/NBC, James Devaney/WireImage

You know what I’m talking about: Xtina, who exhibits about as much fashion sense as Guy Fieri every time she appears on The Voice wearing 18 trends at once. J. Lo parading out all manner of jumpsuits on American Idol, only to be replaced by the likewise unabashedly gaudy Mariah Carey, whose biggest moment on the series so far has been a tiff with fellow maximalist Nicki Minaj. And eventually Britney will wear something insane on The X Factor, where I sincerely hope she’s just getting warmed up.

These competition shows have given the divas a venue to showcase the Bravolebrities who hover over their shoulders like tiny devils when they get dressed every morning, saying, “MORE, MORE! More cleavage! More sparkles! Tighter! WEAR MORE ACCESSORIES AND COLORS AND PATTERNS!” It’s really entertaining and absolutely worth tuning in to watch even if you don’t want to hear a man with an annoyingly manicured goatee conjure up a newly masculinized version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

9. 5. Street style has become totally insane.

A friend who works in fashion said to me he couldn’t look at fashion week street style without thinking, Where do you plug the Christmas lights into that outfit? The things people wear to watch fashion shows have gone from looking naturally stylish and trendy to resembling a trendiness that should be disqualified for steroid use. All that seems to matter is getting noticed, and as a result you have people running around everywhere wearing five prints at once with no regard for the weather, their own safety (see below re: spiked 8-foot platforms), or simple rules of aesthetics.

But insane street style definitely keeps the shows interesting and has a few heartwarming moments. Like this girl who journeyed to New York for fashion week all the way from Poland and showed up covered in cats. She was awesome.

12. 6. Leopard and snakeskin prints are everywhere.

Proenza Schouler’s new snakeskin looks, which were sold right after the show on Moda Operandi.

Each of the past few seasons, people whose job it is to name trends insist that this is the season for snakeskin. (WWD forecasts a big snakeskin moment for spring 2013.) Snakeskin is supposed to be the thing you wear if you’re tired of leopard print, even though the masses haven’t been nearly as enthusiastic about it. Prada has been pushing it on us for seasons, and this past show season, Proenza Schouler showed patchwork snakeskin outerwear where the bits of snakeskin were all a different really bright colors, causing every fashion person to fall to the floor in twitching fits over how fabulous patchwork snakeskin vests are. Meanwhile, if that’s still not for you, Vogue is continues to plug animal print. So you have lots of options if you want to wear animal skin or prints of animal skin.

15. 7. “Detail shots” thrive on Pinterest.

Detail shots are pictures of certain aspects of outfits, zoomed in and cropped just so, rather than entire outfits. You can’t look at the fashion section on Pinterest without coming across a few arm parties — those stacks of bracelets that don’t match but somehow do, and look great positioned in front of a pair of perfectly distressed jeans or olive-green chinos. Other detail shots you see all the time include things like glitter eye shadow, enthralling nail art, nine rings worn at once. The one thing these details all have in common? A lot going on. No one uses a detail shot to show off their great new white T-shirt — you need some sparkles and patterns and layering and gaudiness to really make them all take off.

18. 8. The rise of PSY

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

PSY at the American Music Awards.

PSY is like the new recession — you can’t talk about any trends these days without mentioning his influence. His unabashed, parodic ridiculousness extends to his enormously entertaining and increasingly influential wardrobe. PSY has made tight, sequined, long-sleeved tops for men, two-toned shoes, and patterned vests ironically cool — and he’s not a raging hipster like lots of very influential clothes-wearers whose wardrobes seem to be ruled by irony (see: Alexa Chung) are. Of course all these things can be seamlessly reappropriated for women by stores like ASOS and Topshop.

20. 9. Minimalism got old REALLY fast.

Looks from the fall 2010 runways.

At the beginning of the decade, when the runways turned to all-white, very minimalist looks, fashion critics got really bored and cranky. Lynn Yaeger, writing for The Cut, called the fall 2011 shows in New York “dull as dishwater” and “all about a dollar bill.” Everyone blamed this very boring, safe-as-Taylor-Swift-at-a-law-firm runway mood on the economy. The thinking was, Why would you buy a sequined miniskirt with safety pins sticking out of it when you can barely afford to load up on tees and other basic pieces? Only no one bought that plain boring stuff. Over the past year, everyone went crazy for sparkles, patterns, colors, over-accessorizing, nail art, brocade jeans — the gaudy stuff. Though the all-white trend is still going (because who doesn’t adore stains?), what’s even more important is wearing a bunch of prints at one time. Like, floral pants with a leopard blazer and tie-dyed tank top.

22. 10. Animal stuff

From left: Via Net-A-Porter, Pixie Market, eBay

Whether it’s a print of little silhouettes of cats you’re after or big, realistic-looking animal faces, you can wear animal imagery in many forms these days. The origins of the animal craze can arguably be traced to the spring 2011 Louis Vuitton runway show, which was ripe with animal imagery on and off the clothes. What a way to kick off the decade. I hope animal things help keep this gaudy phase going through the next seven years.

24. Now, two gaudy movements that can afford to stop being movements.

25. 1. Jeffrey Campbell has become a mall brand.

Shoes at my local mall in Austin, Texas, bearing the Jeffrey Campbell label or styled to look like it.

Those crazy-high platforms are in the window of every Bakers and on their own table at every Nordstrom now. Also, signatures of the line — insanely high platforms, allover spikes, a general sense that you only buy these if you have a death or serious injury wish — are evident in shoes across department stores. Campbell itself has gone from being that cool brand people wore if they knew about Nasty Gal and Pixie Market to a mass-market one that’s getting mall real estate on par with wildly popular shoes like Uggs. Speaking of!

27. 2. Uggs are having a renaissance.

At the mall in Austin, where I’m from, this Ugg display is erected in the most visible corner of Nordstrom’s shoe department. You can see this glistening tower of Uggs from every corner of the store, on your way into the store, and on your way out of the store. You never need shoes this warm in that part of the country but people and their babies run around the mall in these sequined styles anyway at virtually all times of year. I blame the Jimmy Choo collaboration with the brand that started in 2010 and unleashed onto the market Uggs that looked like the store Claire’s threw up all over them. Clearly people are into that sort of thing, but sparkly shoes just look soooo much better when they’re not shaped like PVC pipes.

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