The year in fashion — controversies, acquisitions and new creative directions

A model in a leotard-style outfit and black tights leads a line of other models on a path across sand
Models walk the runway of the Chanel Cruise 2022/23 collection in Miami in November, one of the many destination shows that took place in 2022 © BOBY

After two years dominated by the pandemic, in 2022 the fashion and luxury industry faced new global challenges, including the war in Ukraine, the highest inflation rates in decades across the US, UK and Europe, and a slowing economy in China. But 2022 was also a year of momentous changes within the industry, with a new wave of brand creative directors and CEOs; controversies, via Kanye West and Balenciaga; and big announcements, such as Tom Ford’s acquisition.


Goodbye to André Leon Talley

André Leon Talley sits smiling in a high-backed chair.  He wears a black chalk-stripe jacket and black trousers with wide red stripe

André Leon Talley in New York, 1998 © Getty Images

Issey Miyake stands smiling with models clapping around him

Designer Issey Miyake with models during Paris Fashion Week 1993 © Getty Images

On January 18, celebrated fashion editor and journalist André Leon Talley passed away at the age of 73. Talley, an unmistakable figure often dressed in a sweeping cape and Manolo Blahnik boots, worked for titles including Interview magazine, Women’s Wear Daily and US Vogue, where he became the first and only black creative director from 1988 to 1995. Born in 1948 in Washington DC and raised by his grandmother in Durham, North Carolina, Talley has been credited with paving the way for other black creatives in the industry. Fashion lost other important figures in 2022, including designers Thierry Mugler, Nino Cerruti, Issey Miyake, Hanae Mori and Peter Hidalgo.


Brands stopped operations in Russia

Eight days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Hermès announced its decision to temporarily close stores in Russia and pause all commercial activities in the country, initiating a series of similar moves from brands including Chanel, Burberry and Prada, as well as conglomerates Richemont , LVMH and Kering. Luxury brands were followed by publishing houses, such as Elle publisher Hearst, which ceased relationships with its Russian media partners in early March, and Vogue publisher Condé Nast, which terminated its franchise agreement with Condé Nast Russia in April.


Destination shows returned with a bang

Two models wear extravagant gold and silver outfits

In July, Dolce & Gabbana hosted a four-day extravaganza for his Alta Moda collection in Sicily. . .

A model walks down a runway wearing a gauzy white dress slit to thigh and a black and gold cardigan

. . . while Chanel flew to Dakar, Senegal, for its Métiers d’Art show in December

In the early days of the pandemic, travel restrictions put a halt to luxury brands’ outlandish destination shows, with some in the industry predicting an overhaul of the fashion calendar in favor of a more sustainable approach. Yet in 2022, destination shows were back in full force as luxury brands invested in ways to strengthen their ties with local clients. Some of the biggest shows included Dolce & Gabbana’s four-day Alta Moda extravaganza in Sicily and Chanel’s three-day Métiers d’Art event in Dakar, Senegal.


Patagonia gave it all away

In September, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard and his family transferred full ownership of the company, estimated at $3bn, to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and non-profit organization Holdfast Collective. The trust, owning all the voting stock of the company, will ensure Patagonia honors its social and environmental commitments in the long term, while the non-profit, owning all the non-voting stock, will receive a dividend each year of roughly $100mn to be used to fight the climate crisis. Since founding Patagonia in 1973, American entrepreneur Chouinard has made environmentalism a key focus of his business.


The Kanye West saga

Kanye West smiles.  He wears a black leather outfit over a black hooded top

After a controversial show and anti-Semitic remarks, Kanye West was dropped by Adidas and Balenciaga. . . © GC Images

Demna Gvasalia stands with his hands in his pockets.  He is dressed in a black suit and black cap
. . . but the brand and its creative director Demna Gvasalia were caught in a controversy of their own in November © Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In January, Kanye West and Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia announced their Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga collaboration. By the end of the year, the parties involved were no longer working together. Trouble started in the summer, with West taking to social media to complain about management and creative conflicts with Gap. A few weeks later, he terminated his 10-year deal with the American retailer, citing “Gap’s substantial non-compliance”. Then, in October, a surprise show at Paris Fashion Week for the launch of Yeezy Season 9 turned controversial when West appeared wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to deliver a long-winded monologue that included a declaration of rivalry against LVMH chair and CEO Bernard Arnault. Following the show, and a series of offensive and anti-Semitic remarks by the artist, Balenciaga terminated its partnership with the designer. West, who has continued to use anti-Semitic rhetoric, was also dropped by Adidas, Foot Locker and talent agent CAA.


Tom Ford cashed out

Tom Ford stands at the bottom of a flight of steps, with photographers behind him taking his picture.  He wears a suit with a bow tie and sunglasses

Tom Ford’s acquisition by Estée Lauder has fueled speculation of the American designer’s exit from fashion © WireImage

Alessandro Michele, who has long dark hair and a beard, walks on a red carpet with photographers behind him

Creative director Alessandro Michele stepped down from Gucci in November © Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

On November 15, Estée Lauder announced it was buying Tom Ford in a transaction valuing the brand at $2.8bn, the biggest deal to date for the beauty conglomerate. Estée Lauder will operate Tom Ford Beauty, which has been under license with the beauty conglomerate since 2006, while it signed a 20-year licensing agreement with Italian luxury group Zegna for the brand’s women’s, men’s, accessories and underwear, and extended the Tom Ford eyewear license with Italian eyewear company Marcolin. The acquisition fueled speculation around Tom Ford’s possible exit from fashion. The American designer is expected to stay on at the brand until the end of 2023, but it’s unclear what will happen after that. “He’s not interested in fashion any more,” a source familiar with the negotiations told the FT fashion editor Lauren Indvik.


Balenciaga’s big mistake

In mid-November, Balenciaga authored another of the year’s most controversial moments when it released two ad campaigns (now withdrawn) which appeared to glamorise child abuse. The first, called “Gift Shop”, featured children holding bags that looked like teddy bears wearing bondage gear, while the second, called “Garde-Robe”, included Supreme Court documents related to child pornography laws in the background. As outrage mounted, the company took to social media to apologise, but it also initiated a $25mn (£21mn) lawsuit against the production company behind one of the campaigns, a decision seen as a way to divert blame. With no end in sight to the backlash, two weeks after the unveiling of the “Gift Shop” campaign, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna shared a personal apology on Instagram, which was followed by a note from president and CEO Cédric Charbit announcing that the brand wasn’t ‘t pursuing litigation.


All change at the top brands

A model wears a dark blue evening gown split to the waist on one side

A look from Rhuigi Villaseñor’s debut collection for Bally Spring/Summer 23 © Alberto Maddaloni

A model wears a gray sweater and an ankle-length skirt in yellow

Matthieu Blazy’s debut for Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 22 © Alessandro Lucioni

Bottega Veneta, Bally, Missoni, Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro and Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh all came under new creative direction this year, with Bottega Veneta’s Matthieu Blazy making the biggest splash with his debut in February. Blazy, who succeeded Daniel Lee at the helm of the Kering-owned brand in November 2021, won accolades for his take on the house’s craftsmanship and grounded elegance. Lee, meanwhile, was appointed chief creative officer at British brand Burberry in October, following Riccardo Tisci’s departure, and is expected to bring fresh life to the label, which has been under new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd since April. Big changes are afoot at Gucci too, where creative director Alessandro Michele stepped down in November.


Prada and LVMH named new CEOs

In December, Prada picked former Luxottica executive Andrea Guerra to succeed co-chief executives (and husband and wife) Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada and prepare the way for their son Lorenzo Bertelli, currently head of corporate social responsibility, to take over as leader of the group in the next few years. At LVMH, Antoine Arnault, son of chair Bernard Arnault and head of communications and image at LVMH, was appointed CEO of holding company Christian Dior SE in place of Sidney Toledano. The appointment raises Antoine’s position in the French luxury multinational power structure — Christian Dior SE holds 41 per cent of LVMH, or 56 per cent of its voting rights — but succession plans at the world’s largest luxury conglomerate remain a secret. Bernard Arnault, 73, has never publicly named a successor.

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