Perennially chic: the idea that style is constant, consistent, habitual, preternatural. It hardly erodes, but withstands the mercurial nature of trends, fads, and phases year after year to defy the annals of time. The women and men I have tapped as LADYPANTS and LADpants of the YEAR embody such a politic in every ounce of their dress and spirit. From photographers, songstresses, editors, writers, to bloggers, these individuals are style iconoclasts, possessing a fearless approach to fashion and an inspiring vision for all 365 days of the year. Read on to see who made the list…
1/SOLANGE KNOWLES – singer/DJ/mama
Perhaps I am a bit partial to Ms. Knowles, seeing as she was the subject of my first published print interview this Fall, but my bias is hardly without substantial reasoning. Solange culminated a stylishly maddening year of red carpet turns, magazine spreads, and fashionable spin sessions as DJ to the beau monde, the singer showing up in everything from Christopher Kane’s electric hues to Miu Miu’s pilgrim pumps, by producing a sonically arresting LP, “TRUE”, that was the perfect complement to her kaleidoscopic visual portrait.
2/SHALA MONROQUE – editor/writer/creative consultant
In this day and age, the title of “It girl” could easily be argued dubious: it a fleeting, transient title of ineffable measure. However, when applied to Shala it just seems apropos. Her fashion acumen in the flesh, is surreal; her ability to combine the unexpected, covetable, and incalculable, while remaining playful and fun, boggles the mind. The St. Lucian bookworm is of course more than a woman of style, but that of substance, who discusses Zora Neale Hurston while bedecked in Miu Miu with the warmest of smiles and sharpest of suits. Her secret? Besides strong, pared-down accessories and a penchant for color, she dares to believe in herself.
3/CHIOMA NNADI – fashion writer
True story: almost every time I am reading VOGUE and fall across an article on a wildly cool, off-the-grid designer or trend, my eye makes a beeline for the byline to discover that fashion writer, Chioma Nnadi, is to be attributed. The British-born, Nigerian writer simply “gets it” and breathes new life into the fashion tome each month not only with her on-the-pulse reporting but also her well-culled fashion sense. Expressing an aesthetic that could be shore up as “Brooklyn street-wise glamour”, Nnadi is a master at layering prints, proportions, and basketball jerseys into a solid ensemble of downtown flavor that clearly works uptown.
4/TAMU MCPHERSON – photographer/editor
Although she got her start behind the camera as a lensman to the international fashion packs, All The Pretty Birds blogger Tamu McPherson deservedly became the photo subject this year after the lens was turned on her quirky Milanese approach to fashion. Having enough moxie and flair to combine Celine with J.Crew, this former lawyer ex-pat infuses a real effervescence into her everyday luxe looks.
5/ELISABETH VON THURN UND TAXIS – editor/blogger
If the beautifully ruffled TNT is not launching off on Safari, quail hunting in the English countryside, or traversing the Mayan ruins of Tulum, (which is all to be documented in her infectious column, “Flash TNT”), the VOGUE Style Editor-at-Large is taking off on another form of adventure in her wardrobe. The German-born/London-reared/New York transplant imbues a British bohemia into her style and manner, allowing her to flow from off-the-shoulder girl. by Band of Outsiders to print smattered Mary Katrantzou with total ease. Of course, the last I saw her, she was ahead of the style crowd, trying out a hair tinsel trend that had yet to explode onto the New York scene: true to her fearless streak.
6/MIRA DUMA – editor
It’s amazing the punch and energy the pint-sized Muscovite fashion maven, Mira Duma, certainly packs with each twirl on the style circuit. She, a high-octane, high-gloss luxury firebrand, who presides soundly over the gaggle of Russian style stars making their way from Moscow to the world’s various fashion capitols each season. True of her Russian roots, decadence is par for the course, she throwing on Chanel, Marni, Jason Wu, Ralph Lauren, Celine, and denim cutoffs with total aplomb–and being snapped by photographers at every step. Of course, when you speak with the style star, she is all business; the Buro 24/7 editor demands to be taken seriously, working on cultivating her various ventures and her family life. Just looking at her exhausts me!
7/ANNE HATHAWAY – actress
When the great Valentino Garavani likens you to kin, it is perhaps implicit that your style quotient is considerably high; that grace and elegance are second nature. Such is the case for screen siren, Anne Hathaway, who this year took the red carpet, Brooklyn streets, and marriage aisle with a lavish, yet settled energy. Turning to her “fashion godfather”, Valentino, Givenchy, and Tom Ford for her big splashes on the red carpet, she took on darkly romantic, jaw-dropping pieces with such ease, her newfound pixie cut only emboldening the provocative choices she made.
8/MARION COITLLARD – actress
I firmly believe that all American girls, in their heart of hearts, kind of wish they were French: hence our infatuation with all things Isabel Marant and Marion Coitllard. The actress, besides being incroyable talented, assumes a style that tends to evade us Yanks: it is parts feminin, masculin, modern, & retro. She is able to transform vintage silhouettes for the modern taste palette, adding pops of neon brights to Dior’s contoured silhouette, and but still capturing the original essence of the Parisian fashion house that she now fronts. In short, Coitllard is nothing less than a French national treasure.
9/DIANE KRUGER – actress
Diane Kruger landed on this list last year for, what I believed, was her undervalued arbitration of style. I wasn’t quite sure she was “gotten” by the international fashion press, which left me befuddled as she is perhaps one of the biggest risk takers out. She understands extravagance; she understands subtleties; she understands richness, textures, the unexpected. Fashion is a fantasy to the actress and she drums up plenty with her affinity for Chanel and Dior couture on Cannes’ infamous red-carpet (she practically runs that venue). But even her pared-down moments at music festivals or running through airport terminals are full of quirks and whimsy.
10/ZADIE SMITH -writer
I realize a woman as brilliant as Zadie Smith doesn’t really preoccupy herself with fashion. I realize an author of her merit cannot shore up her “personal style” in three words or less. I realize the scribe most likely shudders even at the idea of “personal style”. I get that… However Smith has found herself deep within the popular cultural imagination this year for more than famously interviewing Jay-Z, but also for her wicked sense of dress. Bundled up in vibrant turbans, vintage smocks, and Miu Miu, the NW writer captivates audiences the world over not only with her spellbinding prose but arresting visual make-up. I could have easily selected another well-dressed editor to round out this list, but Smith reminds me of the big picture: clothes only tell us half the story….
LADpants of the YEAR
I’m not incredibly well-versed in menswear, but there are a few truisms I certainly hold fast to: 1/sports stars are not to be confused with style stars, 2/a single breasted suit has two buttons (three, tops), and 3/kilts don’t dismantle sartorial gender binaries. The men that make up LADPANTS understand this and created a tone of strength and versatility in their dress this year by playing with the idea of masculinity through explorations of color, expert tailoring, and dynamite accessories.
Take for instance: (1) Creative Director, Jenke Ahmed Tailly, who is a king at mixing his natural exuberance with Givenchy, Prada, and signature wide brim hats; (2) Joshua Kissi & Travis Gumbs, of famed menswear blog, Street Etiquette, have developed a unique hybrid style of prep/grunge/Afrobeat with their penchant for color, texture, and history; (3) Singer/producer, Dev Hynes remastered the minimalist edge of the early ’90s in all its glory; (4) Rapper, Tinie Tempah, cleverly revealed the perks of British bespoke tailoring; (5) Actor, Jack Huston evoked a dark beauty (reminiscent of mama, Angelica Huston) in his polished suiting; (6) Director, Wes Anderson perfected the ultimate “geek chic” uniform in his ubiquitous seersucker, corduroy, and red socks; (7) while the men of ACF, Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh, retooled proportion and men’s classics for eclectic takes on honored tradition.
**Special Note of Thanks
Wow…2012 has simply been a year of magnanimous growth and change for me: some parts uncomfortable, some parts revitalizating, but all of it necessary. My creativity has been stretched to infinite points, but there is so much more distance to cover! I would not have gotten to this place, of course, without the help of many I have collaborated with over the year including Cleon Grey, Lizzy and Darlene Okpo, Shala Monroque, Vashtie Kola, Estelle, Solange Knowles, Lyna Ahanda, Armina Mussa, IFB, Shanita Sims, Saida Bruce, and Edie Machinist. A special note of thanks to my family for their endless support and love, and certainly to my LADYPANTS readers who have been a constant and encouraging force. 2013 is already brimming with fantastic new ventures for me and I can’t wait to document them all here…xLP