From bridal to street style, here are the best looks of 2018
From Time's Up to the royal wedding, Meadhbh McGrath picks out the most striking fashion choices of last year
It's been a particularly interesting year for red carpet watchers. The Time's Up movement embraced the political power of fashion, opening up the usual pre-awards show chat and going beyond 'who are you wearing?' to 'why?'. While the all-black dress code gave us some of the most consistent and stylish red carpets ever. There were also plenty of fun, fearless fashion moments. We count down the best looks of 2018, on and off the red carpet.
Best export: Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse took a rather different approach to awards season fashion this year compared to her Brooklyn run two years ago. Her styling was unpredictable and eclectic, veering from a white blazer with punky purple lipstick to her delicate pink Oscars gown. Her standout look, in our eyes, was the Atelier Versace dress she wore for the Golden Globes #MeToo blackout. It was sleek and elegant with sparkling futuristic flourishes, perfectly complemented by a pair of sapphire drop earrings.
Best maternity: Kate Middleton
Harry and Meghan's seemingly never-ending tour down under may have been the most talked-about, but Kate's maternity wardrobe during her Scandinavian trip was far more interesting. It may not have been a complete success (her golden floor-length dress is destined to live in infamy), but we loved seeing her step outside her comfort zone. The blue floral Erdem dress would seem to be very much in her wheelhouse, but the bell sleeves and luxe velvet were new and very pretty - a challenging style for maternitywear, and one she pulled off effortlessly. Kate is known for her excellent coats, and chief among them was the red houndstooth design by Catherine Walker, worn with striking oxblood accessories.
Best street style: Rita Ora
After six years, the pop singer finally released her long-awaited new album, Phoenix, and really stepped up her styling in the months leading up to it. Her stylist, Jason Rembert, nabs surprisingly high-calibre pieces for her to wear, and her outfits are never boring. While she does a great line in bold red carpetry, her off-duty wardrobe is even more fun, whether she's offsetting a tonal orange outfit with mint eyeshadow or coordinating her hot pink shoes with the buttons on her flashy floral suit.
Best bridal: Meghan Markle
And the bride wore Givenchy. It was the most hotly-anticipated fashion moment in recent memory, and Meghan's exquisite wedding dress didn't disappoint. With that much hype beforehand, there were bound to be criticisms (and there were - of the loose tendrils, the pared-back make-up and the fit). But we loved the relaxed cut of the dress: a refreshing change from body-con ubiquity, and who could blame a bride for wanting to have some breathing room in front of an audience of millions? The clean lines and boat neckline of her minimalist satin gown are guaranteed to influence bridal wear for years to come.
Best theme: Rihanna
No one could accuse Rihanna of a fear of commitment. The pop star/actress/entrepreneur takes the Met Gala seriously, and she threw herself into this year's theme, 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination', with a custom outfit by Maison Margiela. Her interpretation of papal vestments, complete with a jewel-encrusted mitre, was gorgeously rich, opulent and, most importantly, huge fun. It was a treat to see her opting for a sexy mini style after coming in for harsh comments over her body - her jaw-dropping look made sure to silence any critics.
Best print: Cate Blanchett
As much as we loved Cate's streak of trouser suits for her Ocean's 8 promo tour, her Mary Katrantzou gown in Cannes was the highlight in a stellar year. The dress, which took six months to create, was inspired by childhood paint-by-numbers kits. The effect of the black-and-white print filled in with vibrant beading and sequins is stunning, the butterfly rings work beautifully, and even the high-low bubble hem somehow seems to work. A glorious match of gown and wearer.
Best suit: Claire Foy
The more suits we see on the red carpet, the more we appreciate one that's as well-executed as Claire Foy's double-breasted style by Stella McCartney. As she bid adieu to The Crown and headed into promotion for her role as Lisbeth Salander, some of her outfits skewed a little too literal, but this impeccable suit marked a striking new chapter for the actress, and the red lip and slicked-back hair were all she needed to finish the look.
Best couple: George and Amal Clooney
Amal, an old friend of Meghan's through their UN work, certainly had the loudest outfit at the royal wedding, and her Stella McCartney dress set the tone for the rest of the summer. Yellow reigned on the high street and throughout event season, and marigold was hot on the 2019 spring-summer catwalks, so it looks to be a trend with legs. We were pleased to see how well George coordinated with his wife, with subtle touches of colour in his tie and pocket square.
Best menswear: Chadwick Boseman
This year signalled the start of an intriguing era for menswear, with the likes of Timothee Chalamet, Rami Malek, Henry Golding and Ezra Miller redefining red carpet dressing. But king of them all was Chadwick Boseman, the breakout star of Black Panther, whose appearances at premieres, fashion shows and everything in between were a constant delight. His papal finery at the Met Gala nearly gave Rihanna a run for her money, while his Givenchy overcoat at the European Black Panther premiere was daring and sharp. Our pick has to be his dazzling embroidered suit, Givenchy again, at the Oscars. A game-changer.
Best wow moment: Lady Gaga
As the pop star becomes a fully-fledged movie star, Gaga is still pushing the boundaries in her street style, but her red carpet dressing has shifted from wacky to wondrously OTT. During the press tour for A Star Is Born, she delivered a series of head-turning looks, from her Old Hollywood styling for a boat ride through Venice, to the ruffled, gilded McQueen in London and the dramatic Armani Prive veil in Toronto. The red carpet moment of the year, however, had to be when she stepped out in this fabulous feathered Valentino confection, like only she can.