1 SINGAPORE ON THE WORLD STAGE
Here is a Singaporean name to look out for next year during the major fashion weeks - Vivien Ong.
The 20-year-old, who won The New Paper New Face competition in 2010, landed plum runway jobs this year after inking a two-year contract in Paris with Next Model Management, which has big names such as Karlie Kloss and Arizona Muse on its books.
Now based in Paris, she is the first Singaporean model in decades to walk at the big fashion shows since Hanis Hussey closed the Yves Saint Laurent show during Paris Fashion Week in 1983.
Poised to become Singapore's next top model, the androgynous-looking Ong catwalked for seven international brands, including Anthony Vaccarello, Paul & Joe and Vivienne Westwood, during Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks in September and October.
She has secured other fashion gigs since, such as modelling for editorial shoots in several international editions of Elle magazine, including Elle Italia and Elle Spain. She was also picked to be the lookbook model for the spring/summer 2013 collection of Italian casualwear brand Nioi.
Home-grown fashion brands are also doing Singapore proud. Fifteen local labels - the largest number ever - were invited to take part in various international trade shows this year, including the prestigious Tranoi Trade Show which takes place during Paris Fashion Week.
Of these, 12 labels found stockists in international markets such as Dubai, London, Paris and South Korea. Home-grown accessories label Carrie K. is now stocked at Carter & Bond, one of London's leading men's grooming boutiques, while Max Tan secured stockists in Paris' multi-label womenswear boutique, Dresscode, as well as Galleri Demo in Stockholm.
In October, Future Fashion Now, a new Singapore online fashion retailer which stocks emerging international fashion labels, took two Singapore labels, Dzojchen and Ong Shunmugam, to Paris for their fashion week debut.
Along with another label from New York, the womenswear labels presented their spring/summer 2013 collection to international editors and bloggers at a fringe event.
The show was featured in international publications such as Women's Wear Daily and Vogue Italia.
2 THE ULTIMATE IT MODEL
This has been the year of Cara - Delevingne, that is.
From major runways to international ad campaigns, the 20-year-old blonde Briton (right) has been everywhere. And when fashion glossies such as Grazia, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue UK say she is almost as cool as Kate Moss, you know the leggy clotheshorse has made a huge impact.
To top off a great year, she was named Model of the Year at the annual British Fashion Awards last month.
Delevingne's goofy personality, sharp features, high cheekbones and trademark thick eyebrows have endeared her to many designers.
At the recent round of international fashion weeks, the runway starlet walked in 31 shows - including Burberry, Chanel, Fendi and Stella McCartney - a record for a new face.
But the London native is no stranger to high society.
Her grandfather is Sir Jocelyn Stevens, the former chairman of English Heritage, a public body which aims to preserve monuments and historic places in England. Together with her two sisters, nightclub owner Chloe, 27, and model Poppy, 24, she is among the most high-profile socialites in Britain.
She also counts model-socialite Georgia May Jagger as her best friend and her godfather is Mr Nicholas Coleridge, the managing director of Conde Nast Publishing, which owns Vogue and Allure magazines.
While she has yet to crack the Forbes list of top-earning models, Delevingne has inked a clutch of lucrative million-dollar deals.
In October, she scored one of the most coveted modelling gigs, when she signed on as a Victoria's Secret Angel for two years. The contract is rumoured to be valued at US$7.5 million (S$9 million).
She is currently in her second year as the face of Burberry's ad campaign and will also appear in the spring/summer 2013 ad campaigns for Blumarine, Chanel and DKNY.
She may not be cooler than Kate yet, but she is well on her way.
3 NEW BEAUTY BRANDS
Shopping for potions and lotions in Singapore has never been more exciting.
At least 20 beauty brands made their debut or comeback here this year - and many of them are big names too.
They include Giorgio Armani, Nars, Philosophy, Sulwhasoo, Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent Beaute.
This means you no longer have to beg friends who are travelling to stock up on YSL Beaute's Touche Eclat or Nars' Orgasm blusher (above).
It seems some of these beauty brands, which left or stayed away from Singapore for years, now see the island as a key market that warrants their interest.
Clearly, the world-class retail spaces in Orchard Road and the Marina Bay area are big draws too, as various beauty stores underwent makeovers this year.
Tangs, which completed an eight-month facelift of its beauty hall last month, has raised the bar with a vibrant beauty floor with flagship boutiques, each with a unique identity.
In August, Sephora spent more than $2 million to expand its Takashimaya Shopping Centre outlet, and model its Ion Orchard store after the Champs-Elysee flagship in Paris.
The latter is among the top 10 Sephora stores worldwide in terms of sales figures.
DFS Galleria Singapore, which underwent a six-month renovation that cost more than $10 million, now offers free makeovers and treatments via its new Beauty Concierge service.
Not to be left out, personal care store Watsons also upped the ante by sprucing up its flagship outlet in Takashimaya Shopping Centre. The changes include a glammed-up section for haircare products and a Cosmetics Play Area to host makeovers.
Whatever your budget, there is now a beauty haven for you.
4 POP-UPS GALORE
Want to test the market for a new brand? Open a pop-up store.
Want to revive interest in an old one? Open a pop-up store.
Whatever the retailer's aim, it seemed a pop-up store was the answer this year. At least 20 such ad-hoc outlets which lasted for a limited period, er, popped up here.
Leading the trend was Club 21. The home-grown fashion retailer opened 13 pop-up stores this year, the most popular of which is the still-open Collectible store at 01-08 Ion Orchard. Essentially a sale outlet, it offers past seasons' goods from a rotating roster of labels at discounts of up to 60 per cent.
Louis Vuitton, too, has an ongoing pop-up, which started in July, to promote its tie-up with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Reflecting the polka-dotted collection, the French label turned a vacant retail space in Takashimaya Shopping centre into a Yayoi Kusama X Louis Vuitton pop-up concept store featuring dotted walls, display settings and window displays (above).
Then, there were stores to introduce new-to-market brands. In June, luxury pop-up concept Edit Lifestyle opened for two weekends in Palais Renaissance, stocking resortwear, such as kaftans, swimsuits and tunics, and accessories, including bags, beach sandals and jewellery, from about 10 international labels not found here. They included Australian beachwear label Deus and accessories brand Bea Valdes from the Philippines.
Last month, home-grown multi-label store Actually X teamed up with cult labels Joyrich from the United States, Neuw from Australia, as well as Superga and Commongoodsociety from Italy for a pop-up store. The retail space at 03-78 The Atrium@Orchard, which will operate till Jan 31, stocks more than 10 cult labels not available here.
But one of the most popular ad-hoc stores this year was probably that of South Korea's Headline Seoul. Billed as Asia's first fast-fashion label to rival the likes of H&M, it was started by Ms Ann Kositchotitana, who owns multi-label boutique Front Row, and her Korean business partner, Mr Brandon Hong.
What was planned as a three-day event at the Front Row boutique in Raffles Hotel Arcade turned into a month-long affair following warm response. The label rang up about $10,000 in sales within the first 31/2 hours when the pop-up store opened on Nov 23.
Its trendy, colourful clothes that are refreshed every six weeks have proved to be so popular the owners added pop-up stores in Metro Woodlands and Metro Sengkang this month.
Next month, Headline Seoul will open a 1,800 sq ft stand-alone store at Basement 2 of Wheelock Place. It will also set up a 3,660 sq ft store in Kuala Lumpur in March.
5 CHINA CALLING
It is official: the Chinese are now the world’s biggest consumers of luxury goods, according to a report released this month by management consultancy McKinsey, while another consulting firm, Bain & Company, found the Chinese accounted for a quarter of all such purchases globally.
By 2020, they will account for an estimated 40 per cent of the global luxury market, according to a recent report by the Harvard Business Review.
Little wonder that designers are stepping up their efforts to woo Chinese customers by planting more stores in China and throwing ever more lavish fashion shows.
Louis Vuitton launched its first China Maison in July in the commercial hub of Shanghai. The four-storey megastore is the French label’s biggest so far.
To mark the opening at Plaza 66 mall, the French label held its first major fashion show in the city that featured the same hand-built steam engine that made its debut at its Paris Fashion Week show in March.
For Italian design maestro Giorgio Armani’s One Night Only fashion show in Beijing in May, which marked more than a decade of Armani in China, he staged an extravaganza for a 1,000-strong audience in a massive empty water tank in a converted industrial zone. The show included 15 special Armani Prive looks created just for China.
Armani, one of the first big designers to enter the Chinese market, opened his first boutique in Beijing in 1998.
Also hopping on the Orient Express is exclusive London luxury-brand club Luxup, which gives members access to limited-edition products from luxury fashion and lifestyle brands as well as VIP shopping experiences. Carrying designer brands such as Loewe, Marni and Valentino, Luxup launched its first website catering to Chinese customers in September.
Last month, Coach unveiled a Chinese version of its official Internet store to tap the country’s online shopping wave.
6 COOL BRITANNIA
New York may be known for its trendy, commercial designs; Paris wows with its chic aesthetics; and Milan impresses with its glamorous craftsmanship.
But edgy London clearly hogged the spotlight this year.
For the second year running, it was named the world’s fashion capital by Texas-based media analytics company Global Language Monitor. New York was second, Paris ranked third and Milan came in at No. 8.
London’s success is, in part, thanks to “the Duchess effect”, said Ms Bekka Payack, Global Language Monitor's fashion director, in reference to how Kate Middleton’s outfit choices always become instant sell-outs.
The other reason, Ms Payack added, was “an extremely successful summer Olympics” that the city hosted.
Designers Mary Katrantzou (an outfit, right, from her latest collection), Erdem Moralioglu and Peter Pilotto are among the new favourites coming out of Britain who are pushing the boundaries of fashion.
British pop culture is winning new fans too. English hunks, such as Benedict Cumberbatch (right) and Eddie Redmayne, are the new toast of Hollywood. TV period drama Downton Abbey has not only scored high ratings in the United States, but its sophisticated wardrobe has also helped fuel a demand for grown-up fashion.
Meanwhile, beauty emporiums in the United States are making room for British beauty brands such as St Tropez and Zelens, as English labels make a mark with their innovative balms or heritage.
With the Duchess’ stock set to rise further as mum to a future royal heir, could London make it a hat-trick in 2013?
7 MODELS OF ALL AGES
Move over, David and Victoria. There is a new Beckham gunning for the limelight and we are not talking about cute little Harper.
Last week, Burberry revealed its newest - and youngest ever - star of its spring/summer 2013 ad campaign - Romeo Beckham. The second of three Beckham boys is decked out in a classic beige Burberry trench coat clutching a brolly. The 10-year-old is not the only celebrity offspring to star in an ad campaign either.
In January, long-limbed Kaia Gerber (below, right), the only daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford and club owner Randy Gerber, made her modelling debut also at age 10, posing in a mini skirt and leather jacket for the Young Versace label.
The apple certainly does not fall far from the tree.
And let us not forget Hudson Kroenig, the three-year-old son of model Brad Kroenig (right, with Hudson) and his wife, Nicole. The toddler has done what other aspiring models can only dream of - walking the Chanel runway three times in Paris during Fashion Week, as well as at the recent Chanel Metiers d'art show in Scotland.
The young Kroenig landed the gigs after meeting fashion maestro Karl Lagerfeld on the set of a fashion shoot starring his father, who is the Kaiser's muse.
But celebrity child models are not the only ones in vogue as silver-haired veterans made their mark this year too.
The buzz over older models began in July, after film-maker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders premiered a documentary called About Face: Supermodels Then And Now. It traces the lives and careers of former supermodels such as Carmen Dell'Orefice (right) and 60-year-old Beverly Johnson, who was the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue in 1974.
Dell'Orefice, 81, made headlines for being the oldest model to walk a fashion runway in September, for Norisol Ferrari and Marimekko at New York Fashion Week.
Then, there was British model Daphne Selfe, 83, who starred in Dolce & Gabbana's fall/winter 2012 campaign.
The two are among a bevy of over-50 models, including Carol Alt and Karen Bjornson (who are 51 and 60 respectively), who are still earning their keep as fashion models.
8 LIQUID LIPSTICKS
They are the grown-up versions of lipgloss: easy to use but with the colour intensity of lipstick.
This year, at least 12 brands launched liquid lipstick here for women who want lipgloss in richer shades.
Better yet, they have the lasting power of lipstick but are not as finicky to apply.
Their versatility is also a boon. The glossy ones can be used on their own or applied on top of regular lipstick along the Cupid's bow to make lips look fuller. Feeling adventurous? Layer a contrasting colour over your regular lipstick (such as orange over blood red) on the inner parts of lips for a 3-D effect.
Get bright, traffic-stopping lips with Shiseido Lacquer Rouge ($43, from Shiseido counters, right); Lush Liquid Lipstick ($30, from Lush stores such as B1-13 Wisma Atria, right); YSL Beaute Rouge Pur Couture Vernis A Levres ($43, from YSL Beaute stores such as B2-34 Ion Orchard, right); Nars Larger Than Life Lipgloss ($38, from Nars at Tangs Beauty) and Tom Ford Ultra Shine Lip Gloss ($62, from Tom Ford at Tangs Beauty).
For rich and matte shades, go for Hour Glass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick ($37, from True Colours Makeup Cosmetics, B1-13A Takashimaya Shopping Centre).
For a liquid lipstick that strikes a nice balance between glossy and matte, try Guerlain Luxure Rouge G L'Extrait ($70, from Guerlain counters).
Make Up For Ever's version is among the niftiest. Its Aqua Rouge Waterproof Liquid Lip Colour ($39, from Sephora stores) has a matte shade on one end and a clear gloss on the other end that can be layered on top.
9 DRAMA IN THE FASHION WORLD
From designers playing musical chairs at the fashion houses to spats between designers and fashion scribes, 2012 was full of drama in the world of fashion.
First, the disputes: Ms Cathy Horyn from The New York Times could well be the year's most unpopular fashion critic after very public run-ins with not one but two designers.
She first got into the bad books of designer-to-the-stars Oscar de la Renta for her review of his spring/summer 2013 collection, which she described as "far more a hot dog than an eminence grise of American fashion".
That irked the 80-year-old so much he took out a full-page ad in Women's Wear Daily two days later in the form of an open letter. In it, he retaliated by calling the 56-year-old a "stale three-day-old hamburger".
Within a month, another row erupted between Ms Horyn and Hedi Slimane, who has been nursing a grudge against her since 2004 for a bad review she wrote of his Dior Homme fall/winter collection.
She was left out of the guest list for his debut showing for Saint Laurent, so the critic wrote a (less than flattering) review based on photos she saw of the show online.
Slimane promptly took to his Twitter page, calling her a "schoolyard bully". Ms Horyn responded by describing his Twitter rage "silly nonsense", to which Slimane replied by calling her "Catty Horyn" and said she was "an embarrassment" to The New York Times.
Then, there were the musical chairs.
Jil Sander returned to her namesake label in February after seven years, ousting critics' favourite Raf Simons. The 44-year-old Belgian designer was then named the creative director of Dior in May, finally taking over the hot seat left vacant since John Galliano was fired last year.
In February, Stefano Pilati announced his departure from Yves Saint Laurent and was replaced by Hedi Slimane, who then changed the fashion house's name to Saint Laurent Paris, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way. Pilati is now the chief designer at Ermenegildo Zegna.
But perhaps the biggest shock came last month when Nicolas Ghesquiere (right, with actress Kristen Stewart, who is the face of Balenciaga's fragrance, Florabotanica) announced he was leaving Balenciaga after 15 years. In less than a month, PPR group, Balenciaga's parent company, announced that fashion's It boy Alexander Wang, 29, would be taking over the reins.
Now, who says fashion is just about clothes?
10 LOW-KEY CELEBRITY WEDDINGS
High-profile Tinseltown weddings, complete with exclusive TV deals worth millions, are so 2011 (here’s looking at you, Kim Kardashian). This has been a year in which several high-powered celebrities chose to tie the knot under wraps.
Instead of turning their weddings into a media circus, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds (right); Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake; Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied; Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman; Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman; Carrie Mulligan and Marcus Mumford; and Evan Rachel Wood and Jamie Bell all walked down the aisle away from the paparazzi.
Perhaps the sneakiest wedding of the year was that of Gossip Girl star Lively, 25, and Reynolds, 36. The golden couple held a secret wedding in South Carolina in September, where only 35 close friends and family members were reportedly invited. They released a coy picture showing just their intertwined fingers in this month’s issue of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.
Other Hollywood leading men, such as Brad Pitt, Justin Theroux and Liam Hemsworth, have decided to put a ring on it with their respective lady loves: Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston (right, with Theroux) and Miley Cyrus. Will 2013 set more wedding bells a-ringing? We are keeping our ears pricked.
11 BEAUTY E-STORES
Fashion e-tailing may be old news, but online beauty retailers here are just getting into the game.
At least six such e-stores have launched here, with four opening in the past year.
In August, Luxola.com, which brings in 40 beauty labels - of which 14 are exclusive, such as American labels Edward Bess and DuWop - received $590,000 from the Singapore office of European venture capital fund WaveMaker Labs.
The funding will help the firm, which was set up last year, to expand across the region.
Earlier this month, it teamed up with L'Oreal and is now the only online store based here to stock Maybelline products.
Another e-tailer that is making headway is Zalora.sg, a shopping portal launched in February that started out selling clothing and accessories.
Earlier this month, skincare brand SK-II set up an online boutique (Zalora.sg/sk-ii) under the Zalora.sg platform. It is the only official online store here to offer SK-II products.
Shoppers will also find the latest SK-II promotions and beauty tips.
In all, Zalora.sg stocks 60 beauty brands, of which 10 are exclusive. These include Australian brand Gorgeous Cosmetics and Juice Beauty from the United States.
But we are still hoping for a beauty retailer with an online store that delivers islandwide on the same day. Because when we run out of our favourite concealer, we need a new one like, now.
Another offshoot of the growing beauty e-tailing business is sampling sites. At least two operators have set up shop here. These are Bellabox and Vanity Trove (right), which charge $19.95 and $25 respectively for a box of at least four beauty products from different brands that usually come in travel sizes.
The nicely packaged boxes come in monthly editions and subscribers usually do not know what they contain in advance. By sending beauty samples to those who sign up, the service aims to help consumers discover new brands and products. Such sites are a convenient way for frequent flyers to stock up on potions in handy sizes.
This year, at least 20 big brands, such as Astalift, Laura Mercier and Shu Uemura, gave free samples to these sites in exchange for more exposure to potential customers.
More choices, greater convenience. Beauty junkies, rejoice.
12 RAOUL'S BIG YEAR
Home-grown label Raoul turned 10 in September and received the best birthday present it could hope for when the Duchess of Cambridge (right) wore an outfit from its pre-fall 2012 collection during her three-day visit to Singapore with Prince William.
The royal couple was on a nine-day tour of South-east Asia and the South Pacific to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne.
The publicity was priceless. As soon as pictures of the Duchess in the matching geometric- print top and skirt surfaced online, stocks ran out within 24 hours at 10 outlets in Britain, Dubai, Russia and the United States. They also sold out on Raoul's online store.
In Singapore, the Tara blouse ($259) and pleated skirt ($339) sold out within 48 hours at its three stores here. Raoul also reported a 40 per cent jump in overall sales at the stores over the Sept 15 and 16 weekend, compared to the previous weekend.
Founded in 2002 by the husband-and-wife team of Douglas and Odile Benjamin, Raoul started as a men's shirt label. It branched into womenswear three years later and has enjoyed a higher profile since.
Apart from three stores in Singapore, the brand also has six stand-alone shops in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Currently, Raoul is stocked in more than 150 stores worldwide, including upscale department stores such as Bloomingdale's in New York and Printemps Haussmann in Paris.
The brand opened a showroom in New York in 2009 and another in Milan last year to present its collections to key editors and buyers. In February, it opened another showroom in Milan, where the brand enjoys a strong following, says the brand's spokesman.
Earlier this year, several celebrities, including Rebecca Romijn, Jennifer Lawrence and Viola Davis, were spotted wearing Raoul dresses.
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