The death of a major fashion designer, a celebrity fashion line and the changing of the guard at the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
These are just some of the biggest fashion news stories that have made headlines this year. The year began with the sad news of legendary Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld passing away at the age of 85, then transitioned to a packed summer of news that ended with luxury retailer Barneys New York filing for bankruptcy.
Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85, February 2019
The fashion world was in mourning upon the news that Chanel fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld, died at the age of 85 on Feb. 19. Rumors of the designer falling ill began increasing after he was absent from Chanel’s spring 2019 couture show a few weeks prior.
Lagerfeld’s model muses, celebrities and other fashion designers took to social media to share their memories of the designer upon his death, including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Lily-Rose Depp, among others. Lagerfeld was honored at the following Chanel and Fendi fall 2019 ready-to-wear runway shows and a memorial was held in Paris in June, called “Karl For Ever.”
Lagerfeld’s career is one of the most respected — and longest — in the fashion world. The designer began his career assisting Pierre Balmain in 1954, later joining Chloé — the first of two designing stints at the brand — in 1963. He then joined Fendi in 1965 as head designer of its ready-to-wear and fur collections, launched his namesake Karl Lagerfeld label in 1984 and rejoined Chloé again in 1992 for five years after leaving nine years prior.
He joined Chanel in 1983, ushering in an era of fantastical fashion show sets, “It” girls and iconic designs that paid homage to Gabrielle Coco Chanel herself. His legacy is being continued at the designer house by his right-hand woman, Virginie Viard, who is the first female designer since Chanel to take helm of the brand.
Calvin Klein Exits Collections Business, March 2019
Raf Simons at the Calvin Klein fall 2018 show. Pixelformula/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock
Just months after chief creative officer Raf Simons left the company and the 205W39NYC brand shuttered, Calvin Klein said it would be closing its collections and appointment businesses, meaning the brand would no longer be a fixture at New York Fashion Week or on the red carpet.
The PVH-owned company let go of 100 employees from its New York and Milan offices and president Michelle Kessler-Sanders left the company. Its New York flagship at 654 Madison Avenue also closed.
Although Simons and the brand had parted ways amicably, it was reported that the designer’s vision was too high-concept and didn’t relate to Calvin Klein’s DNA. PVH Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Emanuel Chirico stated that over the three years, the group invested between $60 million to $70 million in Simons’ 205W39NYC brand, but hadn’t seen a return on investment.
In June, Calvin Klein Inc. chief executive officer Steve Shiffman exited his role and was succeeded by Cheryl Abel-Hodges. She previously served as group president of Calvin Klein North America and The Underwear Group at PVH Corp.
Earlier in the month, PVH Corp. and G-III Apparel Group Ltd. signed a licensing agreement for G-III to design, produce and distribute Calvin Klein’s women’s jean collections in a five-year arrangement. The first collection is set to debut for the spring 2020 season.
Tom Ford Named Chairman of the CFDA, March 2019
Tom Ford at the Fragrance Foundation Awards in 2019. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Tom Ford is the latest fashion designer to be tapped as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He succeeds Diane von Furstenberg, who served as president and then chairwoman of the CFDA from 2006.
One of Ford’s main focuses in the position is reinventing New York Fashion Week. He has unveiled a shorter schedule for the spring 2020 fashion week season, down to six official days. Talk also circulated around Ford’s appointment that the new home of NYFW would move to The Shed at Hudson Yards, but considering the backlash against Hudson Yards real estate developer, Stephen Ross, and designer brands already pulling their shows from the venue, the move looks unlikely.
Ford is the 11th person to hold the chairman title — which was previously called president —at the CFDA. Other than von Furstenberg, the role has been held by Stan Herman, Sydney Wragge, Normal Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Herbert Kasper, Bill Blass, Mary McFadden, Perry Ellis and Carolyne Roehm.
Ahead of the start of NYFW spring 2020, Ford announced a number of changes to the CFDA. He appointed four new members to the board — designers Kerby Jean-Raymond, Maria Cornejo, Carly Cushnie and Virgil Abloh — and transitioned four existing board members to “non-voting emeritus status,” including Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman, Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright and jewelry designers Mimi So and Kara Ross, who is the wife of Stephen Ross.
Ford also revealed he will be streamlining the CFDA’s yearlong calendar, condensing the numerous small events held throughout the year into two conferences, with one held in New York and the other held in Los Angeles. He will also be establishing an advisory board of nondesigner industry people.
Rihanna Launches Fenty Fashion Label With LVMH, May 2019
Rihanna at the debut of her Fenty pop-up store in Paris in May 2019. Francois Mori/AP/REX/Shutterstock
While Rihanna has already proven her entrepreneurial chops with her beauty brand, Fenty Beauty, and her lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, the singer furthered her dominance of the fashion world with the launch of her fashion label, Fenty.
After WWD reported in January that the two were in talks, Rihanna and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton confirmed the partnership in May with the release of a spring 2019 collection. The partnership marks the first time LVMH has launched a fashion brand from scratch since the establishment of Christian Lacroix in 1987.
Inspired by Rihanna herself, the brand’s collection focuses on cinched waists, billowing sleeves, tailoring and corsetry details, including apparel, shoes, jewelry and eyewear. The brand is operating outside the traditional fashion show schedule, instead opting for the buy-now-wear-now model. Rihanna previewed the collection on the brand’s Instagram account, showing a video of a diverse group of models sporting the looks.
The collection was then debuted at a pop-up shop in Paris later in the month, and then another was hosted in New York City at The Webster in June.
Rihanna will not be showing a Fenty collection at NYFW spring 2020, rather she will be hosting her second annual Savage x Fenty lingerie fashion show, which will be streamed on Amazon Prime beginning Sept. 20.
Keren Craig Exits Marchesa, June 2019
Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman at the Marchesa spring 2018 couture show. Stephen Lovekin/WWD/REX/Shutterstock
Sixteen years after cofounding Marchesa with Georgina Chapman, Keren Craig said she would be leaving her role at the company to pursue new creative ventures.
Craig’s departure follows a tumultuous 20 months for the brand after news broke of the sexual assault allegations against Chapman’s ex-husband, disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Following the allegations and charges against him, Marchesa suspended its runway shows, transitioning to hosting presentations without Craig and Chapman present.
Many celebrities stopped wearing Marchesa on the red carpet, although recently a few have started working with the brand again, including Scarlett Johansson at the Met Gala 2018, Chrissy Teigen and Lily Collins at this year’s Vanity Fair Oscars after party and Constance Wu at this year’s Met Gala, among others.
Along with the many allegations against Weinstein, actresses such as Felicity Huffman, Renée Zellweger and Kerry Washington claimed that the film producer pressured them into wearing Marchesa on the red carpet in order to boost the brand’s publicity.
While the Weinstein scandal brought on an onslaught of bad press, the brand experienced a lift in sales, according to Nany Aucone, owner of The Wedding Salon of Manhasset in Long Island, who claimed the increase was caused by “the positive side of defending the woman.”
Earlier in June, the brand also introduced a new Marchesa Daywear collection. The brand is still set to present its spring 2020 collection during New York Fashion Week, by appointment.
Stella McCartney Partners With LVMH, July 2019
Splitting amicably with Kering in 2018, Stella McCartney unveiled a new partnership with France’s other luxury giant, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Full details on the partnership are expected to be revealed this month.
Through the partnership, McCartney will continue as creative director and ambassador of the brand and holds majority ownership.
She is also bringing her sustainability mission to LVMH as a whole, assuming an additional role of special adviser on sustainability to chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault, and the executive committee members.
McCartney has long been an advocate of running a sustainable and eco-friendly brand. Her women’s resort 2020 collection was called “Force of Nature,” featuring pieces made from sustainable viscose and regenerated cashmere, among other materials, and her men’s spring 2020 collection was called “Eco Weirdo,” a presentation that had models protesting for the environment.
She is the second female-run fashion house to join LVMH this year, following Rihanna establishing her Fenty fashion label with the luxury giant in May.
The designer’s latest project was collaborating with Taylor Swift on a line of fashion and accessories for the release of the singer’s latest studio album, “Lover,” in August. The collection includes rainbow and tie-dye t-shirts, sweaters, hats and bags created with eco-friendly materials.
Barneys New York Files for Bankruptcy, August 2019
Barneys New York finally fell into bankruptcy — again. Bebeto Matthews/AP/Shutterstock
After months of scrambling to find financing, Barneys New York filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 6, listing assets between $100 million to $500 million. This marks the second time the retailer has filed for bankruptcy in its 96-year history.
The luxury retailer revealed it has over 5,000 creditors, including Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s The Row for $3.7 million, Celine Inc. for $2.7 million, Yves Saint Laurent America Inc. for $2.2 million and Balenciaga America Inc. for $2.1 million, among others.
The retailer said it has sales of about $800 million, 2,300 employees and roughly $200 million in funded debt obligations. Barneys had been searching for a new investor or a way to restructure prior to the bankruptcy filing.
It is said Barneys has lined up $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Hilco and Gordon Brothers, with sources stating that $25 million will be used to pay back vendors. It also has plans to close 15 of its 22 stores.
The retailer also received approval for roughly $217 million from Brigade Capital Management LP and B. Riley Financial Inc. at bankruptcy court, which Barneys can access $75 million of immediately. This replaced the prior deal with Hilco and Gordon Brothers.
On Sept. 4, Barneys won final approval for the full $217 million deal along with a newly increased $40 million consignment facility to pay for inventory. The retailer is moving forward with its goal of securing a buyer by late October.
Read more here:
WATCH: Rihanna’s Fashion Career Timeline