Brown dresses with white polka dots, headscarves, cardigans and matching sets all read like a trend report from the runway shows and it is no coincidence those things hung in Jane Petrie’s costume department for season two of The Crown. This year has been a royal flush between The Crown picking up five Emmy wins and two Golden Globe nominations; the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May, sending ever higher the shooting star of Clare Waight Keller, then newly of the house of Givenchy; followed by Princess Eugenie’s encore;

and Queen Elizabeth II making her front row debut aged 91, at buzzed-about London upstart Richard Quinn’s show. The show was a first for both: it was Quinn’s first ever runway outing and the monarch’s choice for the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Increased attention and stockists like 10 Corso Como, Lane Crawford and Bergdorf Goodman tell of the effect the royal seal of approval can have for young talent. To cap it off? A turn around the land down under for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with the outing of Dion Lee’s ‘folded sail’ dress in Italian wool. Cast in sculptural origami shapes, the navy dress caused the designer’s site to crash (FYI: it was still available for pre-order as this issue went to print). One thing’s for certain: royal blood can still outpace the most seasoned of social media influencers

As Christopher Bailey closed out 17 years at Burberry in February, one might have thought it appropriate he focus solely on himself, but he sent a message of acceptance and celebration focusing on the LGBTQI community, making a donation to youth charities involved in mental health and supporting rights in the sphere. Visually, the message configured itself clearly in rainbow bags, beanies, jumpers and the spectacle of a sweeping coat in red, yellow, indigo, green and violet on Cara Delevingne. With Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Daphne Guinness and Naomi Watts looking on at the giant prism of rainbow lasers that showered it all, there was, of course, more than a grain of his own story as a club kid in the 80s and 90s mixing and mingling harmoniously with people from all walks of life. Virgil Abloh, a creative who doesn’t think in borders, drove home a similar point come June at his debut as creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear: white light hitting a prism and refracting into a spray of colours, both in the clothes and on the floor in an ombré rainbow road. It was symbolic of the circle he surrounds himself with and the people he exalts in his clothes: all kinds, all welcome.

Every year, the first Monday in May is no doubt a most-watched on the fashion calendar, but the mega-wattage of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala extends beyond the red carpet, as proved most poignantly in 2018. More than a million visitors passed through the doors to view the Costume Institute’s exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, an exhibition that filled 60,000 square feet with priceless fashion history, including liturgical garb never before allowed to leave the sanctity of the Sistine chapel sacristy, combined cleverly with hallowed designs of fashion greats. The numbers set a record and the red carpet was hailed as one of the most enthralling of recent times. It was a seemingly difficult theme for celebrities to approach with sensitivity but the result was breathtaking gowns, wings and divine details of the highest order that avoided blaspheming in the face of the almighty, both ethereal and the designers corporeal.

Fur protesters appeared at the shows in February, and again in increasing numbers in September, with activists having an undeniable victory: London Fashion Week went officially fur-free at the spring/summer ’19 shows. Although not confined to 2018, there has been a significant uptick in designers denouncing fur, a move that goes hand in hand with the push for sustainability, both from consumers and makers. Last year Gucci and Michael Kors were perhaps the most high-profile dominos to set off the recent round swearing off fur, following in the footsteps of those who have previously abandoned fur including pioneer Stella McCartney, Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss,Ralph Lauren and e-tailer Net-A-Porter. In 2018 Burberry, Versace, John Galliano and Diane von Furstenberg have all agreed as well to completely cease use of exotic skins, angora and mohair by 2019. It’s also meant an unlocking of the market share for faux-fur brands like Shrimps, House of Fluff, newcomer Jakke, Stand and cult milliner Emma Brewin.

Adut Akech photographed by Charles Dennington, styled by Jillian Davison, Vogue Australia, December 2018.

The face and the name top of mind in fashion’s upper echelons, 18-year-old Adut Akech Bior is an Australian story to tell world over. In only two years she has gone from her home town of Adelaide to being a house favourite of Chanel and Valentino, among many others, with an unending roster of the industry’s best names vying to work with her, all the while cultivating a circle of admirers that comment as much on her inner beauty as her obvious and astounding outward looks. Motivated by family, loyal to her friends and encouraging of younger models, Akech Bior is a teenager with maturity beyond her years and a capacity for empathy and optimism to be admired. She is our cover girl this issue.

The spring/summer ’19 season was the setting for two of fashion’s most anticipated debuts at major fashion houses: Hedi Slimane for Celine (note: no aigu!) and Riccardo Tisci for Burberry. Both signalled a change of guard, with Slimane’s complete overhaul of the Celine image and designs with an injection of his signature sexually charged youthfulness and rock’n’roll influence. At Burberry, Tisci celebrated wearable clothes and intergenerational dressing: the first half of the collection was for the mother, with pleated skirts and pussy-bow blouses, and the second half the daughter – think mini-skirts and corsetry detailing. For the update on the designer musical chairs, 2019 will be the debut year of British designer Daniel Lee, who will be taking on Bottega Veneta as creative director. In the world of old-school elegance, Carolina Herrera stepped down from her eponymous label to hand the reins to Wes Gordon, and Hubert de Givenchy, he of Audrey Hepburn’s most beloved looks, including outfits she wore in Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Sabrina, died in March this year at the age of 91.

Image credit: Indigital

Slash activist
A few years ago the term ‘slashie’ might have been met with derision, but now models are extending their fame to encourage positive change. Karlie Kloss addresses the lack of women in technology by encouraging female students to code with Kode With Klossy. British model Adwoa Aboah established Gurls Talk, an online community for young women to discuss topics like mental health, sex and social media, and has herself spoken out about her experiences with depression. American model Cameron Russell has campaigned for better working conditions for models with the group Model Mafia, and has shared anonymised accounts of exploitation and sexual harassment using the hashtag#MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse. She previously spoke about the snap judgement people make based on first impressions in her landmark TED talk from 2012, entitled ‘Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model’ and is a UN advocate and a Rainforest Alliance ambassador. Australian model Andreja Pejić graced the April cover of Vogue, and is open about her experience as a transgender person following sex reassignment surgery. And Emily Ratajkowski has long been vocal about being defined by her physical appearance, and has commented publicly about US politics, protesting against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court in October.

With growing awareness of the need for runways and media to represent ethnic and cultural diversity, Vogue Australia’s April 2018 cover featured Akiima, Charlee Fraser, Andreja Pejić and Fernanda Ly, who shared their stories of childhood, challenges and of breaking an archaic and homogenous beauty mould, even though there is still more work to be done. As Akiima writes: “Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the diversity of Australian beauty. We have come a long way, but we still need to discuss diversity in the modelling industry … because we don’t want to keep asking for a spotlight.”

The decision of female attendees to don black at this year’s Golden Globes awards ceremony was a visually effective protest to express their solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and gender bias. Eight female actors brought activists as their dates: Emma Watson took Marai Larasi of black-feminist organisation Imkaan; Meryl Streep brought Ai-jen Poo, who is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Michelle Williams invited Tarana Burke, who is the founder of the #MeToo movement; Amy Poehler was accompanied by Saru Jayaraman, president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United; Shailene Woodley took Suquamish Tribe member Calina Lawrence; Laura Dern’s guest was Mónica Ramirez, who promotes worker-led movements; and Susan Sarandon took political commentator Rosa Clemente. The evening climaxed with Oprah accepting a lifetime achievement award, whoc oncluded her speech with: “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.