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A YEAR IN FASHION: 2011

Alannah McMahon looks back at a year of style hits, fashion fails and red carpet winners

My year in fashion started in an odd way. I was waiting in line in Dublin Airport last December, trying to get through security. Not being a morning person, I was tired and grumpy so I avoided eye contact with anyone and kept my head hidden in my brown faux fur coat.

I felt the people in front shuffle forward so without looking up I shuffled with them and walked right on into the man in front, almost knocking him down. I mumbled some sort of apology and looked up only to see that the person I bumped was John Rocha. I immediately livened up and apologised with a bit more vigour, having admired his work for many years and thinking what a clumsy fool I must appear.

He was, of course, perfectly mild mannered brushing it off and assuring me it was fine before continuing to chat with his friend. I was so utterly embarrassed and anxious about the issue, and suddenly very paranoid about what I was wearing (floral dress and lace-up boots), that I left the queue entirely so as not to awkwardly stand behind him the entire way through security. I was then late for my flight as a consequence.

And so begun my year in fashion, in my trademark manner of awkwardness and worry. But luckily, my year was an insignificant blip in the fashion world as everyone else seemed to get off to a much better start.

One such person being Sarah Burton, creative director for Alexander McQueen. Following the death of McQueen in February 2010, Burton was appointed the house’s creative director and designed her first full collection for Spring/Summer 2011. The collection was praised internationally but it wasn’t until Kate Middleton stepped into Westminster Abbey in April, wearing a wedding dress exclusively designed by Burton, that the world truly recognised what an amazing talent Burton has become. The Duchess of Cambridge looked radiant in the now iconic white lace gown, and Burton officially became worthy of the McQueen name, going on to win Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in November.

Another bridal moment came when Kate Moss finally tied the knot with musician Jamie Hince in July, although the designer of her dress could have had a better year. John Galliano designed the delicate beaded gown for Moss before he was dismissed from not only Christian Dior but his own label in March for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks in a Parisian bar in February. Galliano was subsequently charged and admitted to rehab in September, leaving the world wondering what will become of the man who reinvented the Dior name. However, if Moss’ dress were to be his last hurrah then at least he would go out with a bang.

Maternity wear took a very stylish turn this year as some of the biggest stars took to the red carpet using their bumps as accessories. Natalie Portman cruised through the awards season heavily pregnant with her first child yet looking blooming lovely in Victor and Rolf for the Golden Globes and a Rodarte plum gown for the Oscars, picking up Best Actress in the process for Black Swan. Victoria Beckham took maternity wear to a very demure level at the Royal Wedding, wearing a black shapeless dress from her own collection.

However the biggest pregnancy shock was Beyoncé Knowles revealing her growing baby bump at the MTV Music Awards in September in an asymmetrical Lanvin dress. Looking stunning in the orange dress and shoulder-skimming earrings, Beyoncé stole the show from Katy Perry (who accepted the award for video of the year with a yellow cube resting on her pink hair) and Lady Gaga who arrived sans meat and sans dress this year, choosing instead to dress like her male alter ego.

But it wasn’t just red carpet fashion that rocked the boat this year, off-duty fashionistas set the trends this year with the usual suspects setting the tone. While most girls live in tracksuits during a break-up, Alexa Chung kept her British cool chic throughout her break-up with boyfriend of four years Alex Tuner, and maintained her style queen crown picking up the British Style award at the BFAs. Emma Watson made a name for herself in the style stakes by becoming the face of Lancôme and a Burberry ambassador.

Another Burberry girl Rosie Huntington Whitely truly stepped up her style profile this year becoming a street style one to watch, and a knockout on the red carpet as she travelled far and wide promoting her film debut Transformers: Rise of the Fallen, particularly dazzling in a sheer Gucci A/W yellow and black number.

A few faces have emerged as ones to watch for next year, with Kirsten Dunst reappearing in style circles wearing the future S/S collections before the rest of the style set have even gotten used to their A/W pieces. Singer Lana del Rey is heading for big things in both music and fashion, after appearing on Jools Holland dressed head to toe in 60s vintage. Model Charlotte Free has been dubbed the “new Kate Moss” with her edgy pink hair and effortless style, made for great things as she appears as the model of the season for the S/S collections.

I haven’t been to the airport this month so my forthcoming year hasn’t begun with quite such fervour yet but I’m planning a trip in January so perhaps it’s just starting late. You never know, I might run Stella McCartney over with my car and begin my fashion year as a criminal, I do look good in orange!