From luxury department stores having major markdowns on YSL, Prada and Givenchy to traditionally blonde-haired-blue-eyed–dominated runway shows opening its call sheets to models of colour, the year in fashion experienced a when-pigs-fly level of change.

1. The economy brought the fashion world down to earth
High-end fashion has long sailed in the winds of fantasy. And fantasy and budgets have never exactly mixed — until now. Watching Chanel cancel its elaborate mobile art tour and Marc Jacobs nix his annual Christmas party (not to mention those persistent Internet rumors that luxury emporium Saks Fifth Avenue is in financial trouble) made it painfully clear that the industry’s biggest brands are not immune from the downturn.

2. But we got to score some major bargains as a result
Here are just a few of the deals we’ve encountered in recent weeks: A) A Prada tote marked down 70 per cent—from $1,595 US to $479 US, people — at Barneys New York. B) An autumn/winter '08 Maison Martin Margiela dress marked down to $130 US on Saks Fifth Avenue's e-commerce site. And C) Yves Saint Laurent platform heels marked down to $299 US on its online home. Enough said.


3. Sarah Palin made a very expensive wardrobe look not-so-expensive
It was bad enough that the Republican National Committee spent roughly $150,000 US on the vice-presidential candidate during a major financial crisis. But to make matters worse, she didn’t even make the pricey clothes look especially exciting or unique. Fashion critics, television pundits and bloggers alike agreed that she could have easily gotten the conservative looks from Ann Taylor or Gap. And worst of all, Michelle Obama outdressed her a week after Wardrobe-gate in a totally wallet-friendly ensemble from J.Crew. Two snaps and a twin set.

4. Black made a comeback...
Model manager and activist Bethann Hardison created public awareness of the dearth of black models in fashion shows and imagery through her panel discussions. Vogue Italia kept the momentum going with its Steven Meisel-shot black edition. And the appearance of black models in major ad campaigns for Topshop, Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent and on the runways in Paris, New York and London proved the power of meaningful public dialogue. The Milan runways, which still looked pretty homogenous with the exception of a few Jourdan Dunn sightings, were another story. Baby steps.

5. ...and supermodels did too
Between the sudden interest in up-and-coming black models to the super’s return to magazine covers and ad campaigns, 2008 could have also been called The Year of the Model. The major girls not only gave magazine covers a bit of fabulosity (Stephanie Seymour for Harper’s Bazaar and Christy Turlington’s W and French Vogue covers), they brought the wow factor to ad campaigns as well (Naomi Campbell’s YSL photos, Claudia Schiffer’s stints with Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana and Linda Evangelista’s Prada ads.) It's enough to make one want to YouTube old George Michael videos.

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