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2013 in Style: The Divas, Dons and Times We Couldn’t Look Away

The year’s best and worst fashion moments, from Miley’s bear onesie to Rihanna’s ghetto goth to Justin’s suit and tie

The biggest style story of 2013 was streetwear — and how it jumped the shark, so to speak. We hit peak KTZ courtesy of stars like 2 Chainz and Rihanna, and all summer in New York, hypebeasts could be seen rocking unfortunate combinations of #beentrill, Pyrex Vision, Hood by Air, Supreme and the like, all good on their own but a travesty all together (and whoa, did people ever wear them all together).

Meanwhile, a slew of labels knocked off/spoofed high fashion — from Brian Lichtenberg's popular, Céline-referencing "Ballin Paris" tee to LPD New York's team jerseys repping designers like Philo, Margiela and McQueen. But by year's end, the spoofs became their own spoof, knockoffs of the knockoffs becoming so commonplace they were in deep discount webwide. (Guess it's telling that as Donda's Virgil Abloh launches yet another streetwear line, Off-White, Kanye's donning basics almost exclusively.)

Beyond streetwear, there were so many great moments this year, on red carpets, runways, and stadium stages — as well as not-so-great moments when we nonetheless felt a compelling need to rubberneck (Gaga! Miley!). Here are a few of the most exceptional, and a selection of the best you'll be seeing for Spring 2014. 

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Kim Kardashian

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Diva: Kim Kardashian at the Met Ball

This year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute focused on punk, and its annual opening gala, steaming with celebrities from Taylor Swift to Jennifer Lawrence to Chelsea Clinton, was hotly debated (see photos of the red carpet here!). While many argued that designers like Vivienne Westwood essentially invented punk fashion, others thought a red-carpet event for elite fashion lovers in $10,000 gowns was fundamentally antithetical to the spirit. But whatever your stance, one unlikely source flawlessly embodied punk in style, spirit and provocation: Kim Kardashian, wildly preggo, wearing custom, neck-to-finger-to-swole-up-ankle Riccardo Tisci. Not only was the side-split gown replete with built-in gloves and a rebellious mock turtleneck, the Givenchy designer had imbued it with a print of Henri Fantin-Latour's painting "A Basket of Roses," which looked familiar to anyone who follows post-punk/electronic band New Order, and/or celebrated skate and streetwear label Supreme. She wore matching strappy sandals with a very pregnant-feet-friendly, low-looking heel (three inches for Kim K? The blasphemy of comfort!). On the carpet, so bulbous and ballsy in mauve bodycon, she was sublime in her lack of fucks. Her smize was the blankest. Practically everyone on the Internet hated it. There was nothing punker. 

Beyonce

AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Diva: Beyonce in Thakoon in Cuba

Beyoncé is renowned for her Metropolis-via-Mugler leotards, her perpetually fan-winded lacefront, the general pageantry of her steez. Her frequently candid Tumblr posts have provided a refreshing alternative to that image — vacations with no makeup in particular — so we've had a glimpse of the real Bey, but even in the past when she's dressed down, it's still often been a T-shirt with some really bananas leather pants. So when she and Jay Z visited Cuba in April, while network news was wasting precious air-time bickering about whether they'd broken the law, we were focused on the style story: gorgeous, toned-down Beyoncé, box braids pulled into a bun, in a mustard-colored Thakoon Addition tunic and skirt, looking eminently unbothered. And while little sis Solange remains the queen of the mix-and-match print, Bey picking up the torch of unstructured, tropical resort pieces is both surprising and makes total sense. Our other fave Bey look in this vein was in December 2012. . .

Beyonce

Olivia Salazar/FilmMagic

Diva: Beyonce at Art Basel

. . .As she gallivanted around Miami in a sweet floral shortset by Emma Cook. Kinda gives us the illusion that the "Flawless" singer is just a regular gal. Goin' to art shows, wearin' silk de chine, you know how it goes. 

Rihanna

Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Diva: Ghetto Goth Rihanna

Rih could drop a book a year compiling her every look and style transformation (in fact: someone do that, please). But her most interesting switch this year had nothing to do with "Pour It Up"'s denim thong (which Beyoncé also rocked in the "Flawless" video). In September, Rihanna clipped her hair into a Fluke mullet, strapped on a choker and began tagging her prolific Instagram looks with #ghettogoth. At Alexander Wang's Tokyo-themed, Fashion Week afterparty in September, she wore a crimson button-down dress and matching cross choker, looking every bit the long lost character from The Craft. But some people weren't happy about Rihanna's new steez, since the term "ghetto gothic" originally referred to GHE20GOTH1K, the personal style and genre-flipping parties thrown by the DJ Venus X since 2009. Of the genre flip, Venus, who starred in an A$AP Rocky video long before he met Rihanna, said, "She thinks it's just clothes, but it's my life and my family. It's not fashion."

Lady Gaga

JB Lacroix/Getty Images

Diva: Lady Gaga’s Goth Face Palette

And yet the goth roiled on with Gaga, who in August embarked into the LA heat in full American Horror Story: Coven garb. In a long black keyhole dress that, from a pap's-eye-view, looked suspicious in that poly-cotton thrift store steez, she was all-black everything. That is, apart from her face, painted in the palette style of her Inez + Vinoodh-shot "Applause" single cover. In a year in which we were exposed to her bethonged behind and seashell-encrusted pasties — not to mention try-hard art looks and flying dresses — the modest schoolmarm status might have been her most radical look. 

Nicki Minaj

@nickiminaj

Diva: Minaj for Kmart at Alexander Wang Afterparty

Nicki Minaj's Kmart line, complete with jeggings, bodycon dresses and velour sweatsuits, is cut to fit diminuitive women of varying shapes, and especially to accommodate those with bodacious badonkadonks. In September, before the clothes hit stores, Minaj wore selections from her own line to perform at Alexander Wang's Fashion Week party, looking effortlessly sexy and blasting the fashion week mantra "Who are you wearing?" into yesteryear. She took the stage in a long black croptop tee and acid-washed, distressed, hole-ridden jeans by Nicki Minaj for Kmart, accessorizing with a fabulous Chanel nameplate on a dookie chain that we've previously seen on Rihanna. She rapped her "Monster" verse a cappella; the fashion-stricken dropped their scowls, opting for ham. Minaj was her own best advertising. 

M.I.A.

Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Diva: M.I.A. for Versace

It's a bootleg of a bootleg: M.I.A.'s diffusion line for Versace Versus was inspired by label knockoffs purchasable at street markets around the globe, posing some very interesting copyright questions from a woman whose first mixtape ribbed that Piracy Funds Terrorism. It would have been more real if she spelled Versace incorrectly (or, even better, her own name), but the colorful, technology-informed prints were varying degrees of excellent. She flipped the classic Versace medusa with a similar-looking, cheapie globe icon, and from afar her name icon looked like an iTunes equalizer, effectively bringing Versace into the plastics age. But as ever, they looked the best on M.I.A., commentary-as-fashion fitting right into her mix-and-match wildstyle.

Lorde

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Diva: Lorde in New Zealand

Of this look, E! quipped, "Lorde looks like a 'Royal' at a Funeral" and, despite the disdainful application of a pun, it's actually not a bad description. Continuing the year's goth theme, Ella Yelich-O'Connor hit December's ARIA Awards black carpet in a gown to match: an inky fishtail number by Ellery. Accessorized only by a simple silver bangle on each wrist, the sleeves reached her elbow and the neck hit her nape; it was modest but sophisticated, something an intellectual would wear to a charity benefit. Which makes sense, 'cause that's what she is; from heaven, no doubt Sontag approves. 

Grimes

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

Diva: Grimes in Chanel Couture

It's hard to pinpoint where Grimes is coming from stylewise insofar that she switches it up so often — probably thriftstore mishmash is most appropriate, because even when she's wearing Versace pants on the VMAs red carpet, they're oversized, of a sailor cut and paired with Adidas shelltoes. So her look at the Chanel couture show in January was by definition of her style repertoire, but also so pulled together and perfect we're still thinking about it. She transformed all manner of delicate ruffles, dainty detailing and icicle sequins into the outfit a magical animé princess would wear, but with such a naturally tough edge — the jet-black bangs in need of a trim; the fingerless gloves; the piles of diamond necklaces worn like armor — you could imagine that somewhere, she was storing a sword in her pinafore, just in case she had to fight. Roses topped her head like embellished icing; they were slightly combative.

Kanye West

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MTV

Don: Kanye West in T-Shirts and Chambray

For those who recall the photo of Kanye at Paris Fashion Week with his crew of fantastically-colored hypebeasts (later immortalized in the "Fishsticks" episode of South Park), never fear: that Kanye is gone now. While he spent the tour supporting Yeezus almost entirely in an assortment of Margiela masks, offstage he was the perfect vision of well-done dad fashion: chambray pon chambray pon chambray, white T-shirts and a ubiquitous "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet, as seen on the Kris Jenner show. Perhaps it's a side-effect of living part-time in Paris — and his long-awaited collaboration with APC — but Kanye's personal style is casual and more refined than ever. And while he's been breaking out the supple leather pants of late, he's keeping them classic with heather-grey shirts, hoodies and Timbs. Still on that Jenna Lyons shit.

Jay Z

Raymond Hall/FilmMagic

Don: Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” Minimalism

Filming a video over the course of several hours in an art gallery is already an ostentatious thing to do, so any manner of fashion peacocking is going to be closely scrutinized. For "Picasso Baby," Jay Z took a cue from the gallery aesthetic and dressed like a blank canvas, going slight and minimal in a white Tom Ford shirt, Ace Hotel x Converse Pro sneakers and his Roc-a-Fella gold chain. Dressing classy, dressing down, Jay continues to set the bar for casual menswear. 

Justin Timberlake

Steve Granitz/WireImage

Don: Justin Timberlake’s Grammys Tux

Timberlake always looks fantastic in a suit, but he necessarily stepped it up in his Brat Pack-evoking tuxedo for the Grammys in January. The details and fit are so impeccable, it could only be Tom Ford: black pocket triangle with white trimming, white shirt sleeves gently peeking out the jacket, black bowtie resting on his neck with a flower-like dangle and — oh, piece de résistance — white-on-black penny loafers (sans penny; copper would muss the color scheme). But of course: the man performing a song about his "suit and tie shit" has no choice but to be pristinely fly, no? 

Miley Cyrus

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for MTV

We Couldn’t Look Away: Miley’s Bear Onesie

Nearly-naked PVC bikini? Whatever. The true terror was the deranged, weeded bear emblazoned across Miley's leotard at the AMAs. She said "playful"; we had nightmares. Clowns have been replaced as the most horrifying cute thing aimed at kids. 

Miley Cyrus

Kevin Mazur/AMA2013/WireImage

We Couldn’t Look Away: Miley’s Cat Twosie

For Miley's VMAs performance, most of America saw a cute, Internet-inspired cat theme; deeper divers saw a custom Markus Lupfer twosie; we saw a two-year-old Odd Future meme and the unfortunate emergence of the Eighties high-cut swimsuit. Miley, if you're going to resurrect this trend, at the very least you owe us the phone number of your waxing salon.

Miley Cyrus

Dave Hogan/MTV 2013/Getty Images for MTV

We Couldn’t Look Away: Miley’s Biggie and Tupac Dress

Now that Miley decided she loves hip-hop, she is dressing like a 1990s dancehall queen which — it could be worse, and who isn't influenced by her friend Lil' Kim? But cutting Biggie and Pac's faces off at the butt seemed something akin to blasphemy, and at the very least disrespectful.

Lady Gaga

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MTV

We Couldn’t Look Away: Lady Gaga as Venus

It's not that she was showing so much skin; it was that her ensemble reminded us of our grandmother's lucite toilet seat cover. You could imagine it being hot-glued 20 minutes before her performance. No bueno. 

Lady Gaga

Mike Marsland/WireImage; Olga Bermejo/FilmMagic

We Couldn’t Look Away: Lady Gaga in Burqas

She wore burqas on three separate occasions. It was not edgy, it was not arty. It was cultural appropriation that, like that of Selena Gomez, Katy Perry and many more of her peers, was insensitive and harmful. 2014 resolution, let's all say it together: stop doing this kind of crap

Rick Owens

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

Amazing Runway Moments (For Next Season): Rick Owens’ Step Teams

Rick Owens always puts a theatrical bend in his runway shows, but for his S/S 2014 line, he stepped it up, so to speak. Eschewing regular models and instead casting three step teams from Brooklyn and DC to take to the runway in gritface, it was the most-talked-about Fashion Week moment of the year, particularly in light of the ever-stunning lack of diversity in all of fashion. We'll feel like change came if we start seeing these women in glossy magazine editorials, but until then, relish that next season's black pom-pom dress with a tulip breastpiece may fit even if you don't happen to be sample-size. 

Ashish

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images; Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Amazing Runway Moments (For Next Season): Ashish’s Global Grunge

This Briton-via-India consistently drips all his pieces in sequins, even the least likely candidates; for next season, he was inspired by village bazaars in India and Africa and transformed the bodega sack into the most glamorous tote ever. And in his hands, the madras, stripes and slouch of grunge became eveningwear, with glittery ripped "jeans" beneath tunics sloganed with Arabic writing, slightly bootleg-looking (but totally official) Coca-Cola logo polos and giant, hammered-metal crowns. It was some of the most exciting, relevant work out there — the third world made visible, repping the world town. 

Ammerman Schlosberg

William Eadon

Amazing Runway Moments (For Next Season): ‘Matrix’ From Ammerman Schlosberg

Young New York designer Raul Lopez made combat wear for binary wars, cargo-izing every piece — tunics, vests, shorts — into a utilitarian battle look. But nothing was more explicit than his green tunic/dress emblazoned with green data streams direct from Neo's brainwaves. This generation is clearly still reckoning with the implications of cyberpunk, because another up-and-coming label, Ammerman Schlosberg, had the same idea, but ramped up the nightmare factor with the same aviator Oakleys as Neo's cloning nemesis.

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