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 sand path
Models walk the runway of the Chanel Cruise 2022/23 collection in Miami in November, one of the many destination shows taking place in 2022 © BOBY

After two years dominated by the pandemic, in 2022 the fashion and luxury industry faces new global challenges, including the war in Ukraine, the highest inflation rates in decades across the US, UK and Europe, and a economic slowdown in China. But 2022 is also a year of significant change within the industry, with a new wave of brand creative directors and CEOs; controversy, through Kanye West and Balenciaga; and big announcements, like the Tom Ford hiring.

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Farewell to Andre Leon Talley

André Leon Talley sat smiling in a high chair.  He wore a black chalk-stripe jacket and black pants with a 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 at 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 she was the first and only black creative director from 1988 to 1995. Born in 1948 in Washington DC and raised by her grandmother in Durham, North Carolina, Talley is credited with paving the way for other black creatives in the industry. Other important figures have fallen out of fashion in 2022, including designers Thierry Mugler, Nino Cerruti, Issey Miyake, Hanae Mori and Peter Hidalgo.

Brands have stopped operating 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 activity in the country, triggering 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 cut ties with its Russian media partners in early March, and Vogue publisher Condé Nast, which terminated of its franchise agreement with Condé Nast Russia in April.

Destination shows are back with a bang

Two models wear elegant gold and silver outfits

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

A model walks the runway wearing a white dress with a thigh slit 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 halted exotic destination shows by luxury brands, with some in the industry predicting an overhaul of the fashion calendar in favor of a more sustainable approach. But in 2022, destination shows are back in full force as luxury brands invest in ways to strengthen their relationship with local clients. Some of the biggest shows include Dolce & Gabbana’s four-day Alta Moda extravaganza in Sicily and Chanel’s three-day Métiers d’Art event in Dakar, Senegal.

Patagonia gives it all

In September, Patagonia 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, which owns all of the company’s voting stock, will ensure that Patagonia honors its social and environmental commitments over the long term, while the non-profit, which owns all of the stock that does not voting, will receive a dividend each year of around $100mn that will be used to fight the climate crisis. Since founding Patagonia in 1973, American entrepreneur Chouinard has made environmentalism the main focus of his business.

The Kanye West saga

Kanye West smiled.  He was wearing a black leather outfit over a black hooded top

After a controversial show and anti-Semitic statements, Kanye West has been dropped by Adidas and Balenciaga. . . © GC Images

Demna Gvasalia stands with his hands in his pockets.  He was wearing a black suit and a black cap

. . . but the brand and its creative director Demna Gvasalia were caught up in their own controversy in November © Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In January, Kanye West and Balenciaga 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 began last summer, with West complaining about management and creative conflicts at Gap. A few weeks later, he terminated his 10-year deal with the American retailer, citing “gross non-compliance by Gap”. Then, in October, a surprise show at Paris Fashion Week to launch Yeezy Season 9 became controversial when West appeared wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to deliver a lengthy monologue that included declaration of conflict against LVMH chair and CEO Bernard Arnault. Following the show, and a series of offensive and anti-Semitic statements by the artist, Balenciaga ended its partnership with the designer. West, who has continued to use anti-Semitic rhetoric, has also been dropped by Adidas, Foot Locker and talent agent CAA.

Tom Ford cashed out

Tom Ford is standing at the bottom of a flight of steps, with photographers behind him taking his picture.  He was wearing 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, with long dark hair and a beard, walks 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 that valued 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 to the beauty conglomerate since 2006, as it signs a 20-year licensing agreement with Italian luxury group Zegna for women’s, men’s, accessories and underwear by brand, and extended the Tom Ford eyewear license to Italian eyewear company Marcolin. The acquisition sparked speculation of Tom Ford’s possible departure from fashion. The American designer is expected to remain with the brand until the end of 2023, but it is unclear what will happen after that. “She’s not interested in fashion anymore,” a source familiar with the negotiations told FT fashion editor Lauren Indvik.

Big mistake by Balenciaga

In mid-November, Balenciaga scored one of the most controversial moments of the year when it released two ad campaigns (now withdrawn) that appeared to glamorize child abuse. The first, called “Gift Shop”, featured children holding bags as teddy bears dressed in bondage gear, while the second, called “Garde-Robe”, included Supreme Court document related to child pornography laws in the background. As outrage grew, the company took to social media to apologise, but also launched a $25mn (£21mn) lawsuit against the production company behind one of the campaigns, a decision seen as a way to deflect to blame With no end to the backlash, two weeks after unveiling the “Gift Shop” campaign, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna shared a personal apology on Instagram, followed by a note from the president and CEO that Cédric Charbit who stated that the brand will not continue the litigation.

Everything is changing with the top brands

A model wears a dark blue evening gown that is split at 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 a yellow ankle-length skirt

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 are under new creative direction this year, with Bottega Veneta’s Matthieu Blazy making the biggest splash with his February debut. Blazy, who succeeds Daniel Lee at the helm of the Kering-owned brand in November 2021, has won accolades for his understanding of the house’s craftsmanship and underlying beauty. Lee, meanwhile, was appointed chief creative officer at British brand Burberry in October, following the departure of Riccardo Tisci, and is expected to breathe fresh life into the label, which has been under new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd since April . Big changes are also afoot at Gucci, where creative director Alessandro Michele stepped down in November.

Prada and LVMH named new CEOs

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


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