Every now and then, a particular combination of person, place and garment produces absolute magic. The kind of image—J.Lo in the green Versace, Halle in the embroidered Elie Saab—that remains seared into our brains for years to come. This past year was chock full of such images, looks that arrested and awed and prompted us to send screen-grabs to our friends to discuss. Here, for your viewing pleasure, a review of 2021’s most salient style moments.

Amanda Gorman at the U.S. Presidential Inauguration: We kick things off with Amanda Gorman, who at 22 made history as the youngest inaugural poet during President Biden’s swearing-in ceremony in January. The Harvard graduate captivated viewers the world over with her poem “The Hill We Climb,” which she penned following the U.S. Capitol riot. The text’s hopeful tone was matched by Gorman’s sunny Prada coat and oversized headband, a whimsical combination that captured the optimism of the occasion.


The collective works of Zendaya: As a GQ cover of the actor read: “Guess who runs Hollywood now? (Zendaya).” In 2021 alone, she starred in blockbusters “Dune” and “Spider Man: No Way Home,” the promotional tours for which involved a procession of drool-worthy looks cooked up by her long-time stylist: the brilliant Law Roach. It’s no wonder she took home the Fashion Icon award at this year’s CFDAs.

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala: Next up is Kim Kardashian in what is essentially the polar opposite of the usual naked dress. Shrouded in an all-black ensemble by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, one of the most exposed people on the planet flipped the script. Was it a comment on how Kardashian is so famous, she can be recognized by her mere silhouette? Or perhaps a desire to indulge in faceless anonymity for one night only? No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative.

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish at the Met Gala: Another Met Gala moment. There are a few on this list because A) not a whole lot happened this year and B) “the fashion Oscars” couldn’t have been more worthy of that moniker this time around. Case in point: Billie Eilish sending shockwaves down the Metropolitan Museum steps with this Marilyn moment. A marked departure from the baggy garments she usually favours, the frothy Oscar de la Renta channelled old Hollywood glamour. But there was another reason the dress was so noteworthy: Eilish agreed to wear the label on the condition it stop selling fur, using her first Met Gala appearance (she was also this year’s co-chair) to effect lasting change in the industry. Well played!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Met Gala: While we’re on the topic of Met statements, we of course couldn’t leave out what was arguably the night’s most talked about dress. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a custom white Brother Vellies gown with the words “Tax the rich” scrawled across the back in bold red letters—quite a cheeky thing to say at an event for which tickets cost a modest $38,000. As the dress’s designer, Aurora James (pictured left), told The Kit, “If you have a message to deliver to a certain group of people, you may as well go where they are to tell them.” Touché!

Quanna Chasinghorse

Quanna Chasinghorse at the Met Gala: Completing the Met Gala portion of our program is the sensational Quannah Chasinghorse. The 19-year old-Indigenous model—who is Hän Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota—paid homage to her heritage by pairing her Peter Dundas gold lamé dress with piles of turquoise and silver jewellery that reflected her ties to the Navajo tribe. A particularly poignant sight considering the evening’s Americana theme. As Chasinghorse told Vogue, “It was refreshing to feel empowered in a space where I wouldn’t have been welcomed if it was a decade ago.”

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga at the “House of Gucci” premiere: When the movie is about one of the biggest fashion houses in the world and the lead actor one of the most flamboyant dressers of our time, you know you’re in for some stellar premiere looks. As always, Gaga did not disappoint, giving photogs money shot after money shot (that dramatic deployment of the sleeves!) in purple pleated Gucci at the film’s London premiere.

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X at the IHeartRadio Awards: Men’s red carpet fashion tends to be pretty redundant, but not when Lil Nas X is on the guest list. The hip-hop star knows how to make the most of every appearance, giving the people something to talk about and never shying away from risk. He’s had a particularly good run of looks this year, but we had to highlight this holographic suit moment, complete with a coordinating cat-eye—inspired!

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle at the Salute to Freedom Gala: The Duchess of Sussex took a page out of her late mother-in-law’s book and broke out her own version of a revenge dress. Amid the backlash of that Oprah interview, the much-publicized drama with her family and that of her husband, and a court case against The Daily Mail, Markle pulled out all the stops for what was her first red carpet appearance since leaving the Royal Family. Wearing a Carolina Herrera ball gown in the most fiery shade of crimson, she looked positively regal. Silenced no more!

Gemma Chan

Gemma Chan at the “Eternals” premiere: Gemma Chan—the very embodiment of elegance—brought it to the “Eternals” promo circuit, using her spotlight to champion the work of Asian creatives. Here she is at the Rome Film Festival, an absolute vision in Swarovski-crystal-embellished separates (that headpiece!) from rising South Korea-born designer, Sohee Park.

Katherine Lalancette is the beauty director of The Kit, based in Toronto. She writes about beauty and trends. Reach her on email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @kik_tweets

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