Recent History

2012: A Year of Seattle Style in Review

It was a year of out-of-town guests, team work, good buys, and not-so-good riddances.

By Laura Cassidy December 31, 2012


One of our favorite moments of 2012: the BCBGMaxAzria fashion show at the Chihuly Boathouse.


Whatever the Mayans did or didn't think about 2012, the world that is the Seattle style scene came out of the year pretty well.

Here's our backward glance.

The strongest trend in retail and design is collaboration. Stores and stores, designers and designers, stores and designers, designers and empty spaces, and on and on and on. It's a trend you can feel really good about. In fact, you can roll your sleeves up and do something really good about it. I find myself saying over and over again that the best thing about living in a smaller-sized city is that you can really be a part of what happens here.

To name but a crosstown hookups: there was  the Kimberly Baker pop-up at Madewell, Marigold and Mint at West Elm, numerous intersections at Belltown's Object, KV's Tenth Avenue Bazaar, Seattle Design Festival, that time Baby and Co. became a modern dance venue, and a food and fashion experiment at Tom Douglas's Palace Ballroom that, well, may or may not have been entirely palatable.

We at Seattle Met got pretty collaborative, too: there was the Italian fashion and design series at Cafe Lago, various in-store styling collaborations such as the one at Nordstrom with Lafayette 148, a holiday shopping pop-up and fundraiser for the Seattle Symphony at 1927 Events, and Seattle's first fashion-focused film series, Screen Style, curated by yours truly for the Northwest Film Forum.

We helped launch a few fashion shows, too:

In Seattle, one word: #FNOSEA. Finally.

In Bellevue, one concept: Growing local talent via the Independent Designer Showcase.

And then there were all the national brands in cahoots—most notably, in terms of what directly affected us in Seattle:

Jason Wu for Target

Marni for H&M

Target and Neiman Marcus

and Margiela at H&M, which, depending on which way you looked at it ("Right on! A week after the sale and there's a whole rounder full of half-priced conceptual high fashion!" or "None of it fits and all of this is starting to feel a little gross."), could signal the end or the new beginning of fast fashion experiments.

Notable shop-in-shop collab o' the year: TopShop at Nordstrom. Hey, it's easier than flying to London.

In my reading of it, 2012 was also the year that local museums got really stylish. BAM and the Nordic Heritage Museum kicked off the year with shows featuring mid-century designers; BAM continued with a string of great events including a retrospective of local jewelery artist Mary Lee Hu and the Bold Expressions quilt show; there was that fantastic ikat exhibit at Seattle Asian Art Museum; Brooklyn artist Mika Tajima staged a non-fashion fashion shoot at SAMWorkroom to Runway at Wing Luke taught us a thing or two about making it work in Seattle; EMP's Leather Show and runway competition made the most of local designers and the leather craze; and Elles at SAM, and the attendant Remix was a chance to think about women, including a certain polka dot-crazy fashion icon, and how they present themselves to the world.

In fact, my personal favorite story-in-a-story: As the planet got turned on to Yayoi Kusama via the Louis Vuitton collaboration, we discovered that Seattle was integral to the Japanese artist's genesis.

My votes for non-story stories? Total duds? Amazon as a fashion house, and Filson hiring Richard Chai. As for the latter; I sort of hoped against hope that it would mean something for Seattle. It didn't, and the collaboration is over now anyway.

2012 was also Seattle's year of fashion and design publications. As if to say "Hell no print won't go (not in Seattle at least)," Craft and Culture issued the first version of Ledger, the gorgeously and wholly inspiring Pacific Standard came out, and Seattle Catalog's ongoing exploration of commerce, art, and pointing and clicking went on exploring. Gorgeous volumes of local photography help bolster the excitement and resources.

Okay. What else?

Notable retail openings:

The biggest opening was a re-opening, and a story we had tracked since summer '11: Totokaelo's new Capitol Hill spot.

Second biggest opening: City Target. I mean, let's just be honest here.

And, most recently, the high tech-y Hointer in Wallingford. I've had numerous conversations with numerous style industry minds about teaching men how to shop, but it never really really looked like this. And seriously, what's up with Wallingford? Japanese gastropubs and forward thinking men's denim? I didn't know the quiet little neighborhood had all that in it.

What didn't open—despite persistent rumors and a rapid hunger for Japan's version of American Apparel? Uniqlo.

Notable closures: Flora and Henri, Knows Perfume, Merge, and, in one of the biggest stories of the year, Velocity, whose John Tusher answered my questions but only left people more pissed off.



Beauty launch of the year: Kari Gran Cosmetics. The Lip Whip is phenomenal, and the facial care line is worthy of obsession. Accessories launch of the year: Irene Wood. It's just too bad the local designer then moved to New York. (But not that bad. You should follow her on Twitter for news of new designs and sales. It's like she never left!)



Fashion film of the year: the Diana Vreeland documentary.

In wedding-style news, there was really only one story: Love wins.

Best gender-bending fashion modeling coup? The former Seattleite-turned-Lanvin model. That was real.

We had good visitors this year. Simon Doonan at Barneys, who told me that American wedding cake is gay, and BCBGMaxAzria creative director Lubov Azria, who brought the fall collection to a private runway show at the Chihuly Boathouse.

And there was that whole Rachel Zoe thing at Nordstrom. Honestly, I just ended up wishing that it hadn't been such a thing. Rachel Roy, on the other hand, was delightful.

Some Seattle people showed up on the television, too: a local model did her thing for Tyra Banks and Lizzie Parker and Lisa Hunter took turns on Fashion Star, which just made all of us question, anew, "reality" programming.

The year will wrap up with about a million post-holiday sales and about a zillion resolutions for looking good in 2013.

Thanks for a productive and inspiring twelve months - I'm looking forward to the next set.





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