The Girls of 2014 — No. 1

On the final day of 2014 we bid adieu to 365 days full of ups and downs and memorable moments. We also celebrate the top It Girl of 2014, a coveted title only one starlet can possess. Last year saw Jennifer Lawrence reign supreme, but this year a brand new name has earned the top spot.

What exactly is an It Girl, though? What do I look for when compiling my annual year-end list? She's got to have name-recognition, of course, and a number of successes and achievements throughout the year; 2014's list consists of the top actresses, models, singers, and even an international lawyer and human rights activist. As this is a fashion blog, she's got to be a fashion girl and a trendsetter. And she can't just wear whatever is the most popular—no, she must have a unique style that reflects her individual personality.

In other words, an It Girl has to have influence. Over her respective industry, over fashion, over the world. Celebrities have an incredibly unique power in order to enact change because they are so well-known and in the public sphere, and I think there's something to be said for a celebrity who takes advantage of those opportunities to make a difference.

It's been a turbulent year to say the least. I don't speak politics on this blog very but you'd have to be living under a rock if you disagree with that statement. I'm no celebrity but I try to make a difference where I can, in whatever small way I can impact the world, and I am envious of celebrities who truly have the star power to make a true difference.

There's the notion that an It Girl has to be cool and effortless, but I have begun to find a lack of effort incredibly overrated. Why can't we value hard work and strong ambition and the desire to want something? And why must an It Girl only be someone who wears floppy hats and looks impeccably stylish wherever she goes? Why can't she be fashionable and influential in that regard, but also something more than that?

It is for all these reasons that there is no better choice for 2014's Top It Girl than Lupita Nyong'o, the breakout star of last year's 12 Years a Slave and one of the most influential young actresses that I have ever seen.

Photo Source: Marie Claire UK October 2014
When I first watched 12 Years a Slave I was instantly drawn to Nyong'o's character of Patsey. By the time I had watched the film Lupita was already garnering plenty of Oscar buzz (she later took home the little golden statue and a number of other awards for her supporting role) and I was eager to see her  performance. The character of Patsey is probably only on screen for about 15 minutes, but Nyong'o's portrayal was so beautiful and sad that afterwards I immediately went to research the fate of the real-life Patsey. The most frustrating part: her life after Solomon passes through remains a mystery. But that Nyongo's portrayal of the character had me researching Patsey and Solomon and their stories in the wee hours of the night was truly an accomplishment. It is not often that I am so deeply moved by a film.

During awards season, Nyong'o proved that she was just as moving off the screen as she was on it. She deservedly won countless awards for her role in 12 Years a Slave and dazzled the world with her bright red carpet looks and her dazzling personality. I was moved to tears during some of her acceptance speeches, where she both acknowledged the hard work and drive that got her to this point and encouraged others to follow their dreams. And I know that many actors and Hollywood types have encouraged younger generations to do the same, but it felt distinctly genuine when coming from Nyong'o.

Here is a woman who has proven to be a role model in every sense of the word. And really, that seems to be the theme of the Girls of 2014 list. Nyong'o has taken her newfound celebrity status as an opportunity to make a change and serve as a role model for women and for people of color. She's given powerful speeches on women's rights (check out her keynote speech at the Massachusetts Conference for Women) and she's taking a public stand on cases of police brutality and discrimination. In all those instances she speaks of the topics she is addressing with intelligence and poise.
Givenchy | Calvin Klein Collection | Christian Dior Couture | Prada | Ralph Lauren | Gucci
Of course, Lupita Nyong'o has had a stellar year in terms of becoming a major fashion player as well. Like I said, she could do no wrong during awards season. Her Cinderella-like Prada gown at the Academy Awards was one of the best looks of any celebrity this year, and her dainty headband sparked a revival of the hair accessory once reserved for reigning Queen Bs on the steps of the Met.

She donned looks from all the top designers, especially Miuccia Prada. Nyong'o sat front row at fashion week shows and got invites to insider events like the Met Gala and the CFDA Awards. She's not afraid to push the envelope with her fashion choices and she knows what her style is. She was named one of Glamour's Women of the Year, People's Most Beautiful Person of 2014, and has a modelling gig with Estee Lauder. She covered Vogue, Marie Claire, and Glamour, and starred in Miu Miu's Spring ad campaign. She's a fashion It Girl if there ever were one. 

Nyong'o is a rare breed of celebrity that we don't see very often. She's as radiant as the sun and she's constantly aware of the hard work that got her to where she is and how fortunate she is to be where she is. So many people take their positions in life for granted, and it is truly refreshing to see someone who both enjoys her status as celebrity and is aware that it is a fortunate lifestyle.

So with an Oscar and a number of other accolades under her belt, what's next for Nyong'o in the new year? How about a top-secret role in the new Star Wars film? Little has been revealed about the film and we still don't know who Nyong'o will be in the new movie, but a new Star Wars is huge and Nyong'o is going to continue to garner international attention for her part in one of the largest film franchises of all time. She's also the voice of Rakcha in next year's live-action version of The Jungle Book. Between those two big films, Nyong'o is a star that will only continue to rise in 2015.

What do you think of Lupita and her style? Who is your No. 1 girl of 2014?

The Girls of 2014 — No. 2

Julien Macdonald | Alice + Olivia | Romona Keveza | Zuhair Murad | Michael Kors | Calvin Klein
No matter how hard you tried, Taylor Swift was one name you simply could not shake off this year. The girl was literally everywhere. Her new album 1989 debuted to phenomenal commercial and critical success and with it came a new, even poppier sound and a brand new Taylor. Gone are the acoustic guitars and cowboy boots and curly ringlets. The 2014 Taylor is urban, stylish, and sleek, and she's ready to rock.

I'll be the first to admit that I haven't been the biggest fan of Swift's past music or personality. Country pop is so not my thing, and I kind of can't stand when celebrities are continually "surprised" by their own success (see: Jennifer Lawrence). However, Taylor Swift has grown into a confident and empowered young woman and she is owning her fame and success now. She's not crying about boys that got away anymore; she's singing songs about going Amy Dunne on their asses and poking fun at the way the media paints her as a serial dater. She even poked fun at critics who say she can't dance in the video for her hit single "Shake It Off", so haters continue to hate (hate, hate, hate, hate) but know that Taylor really doesn't care what you think. She's totally rocking it no matter what the critics say (also, "Shake It Off" is likely going to bring Swift more Grammy glory come February).

In regards to style, T-Swift definitely upped her fashion game this year. With a new look and plenty of fashion friends like BFF Karlie Kloss, Swift is appearing more glam and modern both on the red carpet and out and about in her new hometown of New York City (Have you seen what she wears to and from the gym??). The crop top has become one of her signature looks and it's never seemed so polished as it does on Swift. She also totally made the matching set trend catch on this summer. Talk about a trendsetter!

Her lob has become one of the hottest hairstyles of the moment, and her signature red lip has never seemed so stylish. She can go from a sexy lace romper at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show to a cat-print Kate Spade frock in a second and look cool and fun in either one. Now that's something that will never go out of style.

So pump up the volume and bust a move to 1989 and just accept the fact that this is Taylor Swift's world now, we're all just living in it. And frankly, I'm okay with that.

Who will be the Number 1 It Girl of 2014? Check back tomorrow to see!

The Girls of 2014 — No. 3

Giambattista Valli | Red Dress | Dolce & Gabbana | Ted Baker | Dolce & Gabbana | Stella McCartney
The only member on the list to work outside of the entertainment industry, Amal Alamuddin (now Amal Clooney) is a singularly fabulous individual. While she exploded onto the scene in 2014 thanks to her nuptials to a certain George Clooney (Yeah. That George Clooney), Amal is not your ordinary celebrity plus-one.

For starters, this British bombshell is a top lawyer who specializes in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition. She's even represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the former Prime Minister of Ukraine. She's also a member of a few United Nations commissions, including a committee that is focused on the Gaza Strip conflict. So yeah, she's much more than just someone's girlfriend or wife.

Recently Amal has been focusing her humanitarian efforts on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, using her new celebrity status to have a positive influence and spread awareness on an incredibly important issue. Like Watson (the No. 4 girl on our list), Amal isn't just a style icon: she's a role model.

But let's talk about her killer fashion sense for a moment. Amal brings a whole new definition to "dressing for success", as her colorful power dresses would make the cast of The Good Wife jealous. She always looks poised and ready to take on the world, but her off-duty styles show that you can work hard and play hard. It was during the Clooneys' whirlwind wedding in Venice, Italy, that she really won over the hearts of millions with her flawless honeymoon style. She hopped onto canal boats in couture dresses and flawless jumpsuits complete with wide-brim hats. Her style is high-end but easily adaptable for a more practical budget, and she shows that you can be glam and kick ass all at the same time.

What to Wear on New Year's Eve

Sofia Coppola in 1995 | WeWoreWhat | Nicole Richie | Collage Vintage
Stumped on what to wear this New Year's Eve? Look no further than the slip dress! With the 90s resurging thanks to everyone from Nasty Gal to Iggy Azalea (that Clueless-inspired video was epic) comes inspiration for a foolproof New Year's outfit formula: slip dress + heels + oversized jacket.

The best part? You probably already have a slip dress lurking in your closet. Just throw on a pair of sexy heels and some dainty jewelry (or a choker and vampy lipstick if you want to go full-on 90s). If the weather is not on your side, slip on some tights and throw an oversized sweater or coat over your shoulders—perhaps a leopard print coat for ultimate sass.

No matter how you style your slip dress, it's a sure-fire way to make a statement as the ball drops.

SHOP SLIP DRESSES:
What are your New Year's Eve plans, and what will you be wearing?

The Girls of 2014 — No. 4

Vera Wang | J. Mendel | Dior & Misha Nonoo | Balenciaga | Ralph Lauren | Valentino & BLK DNM
It can be challenging for an actress to move forward in her career when she has become defined by an incredibly memorable character. It happens a lot with television actors when audiences see the actors as the characters themselves, rather than separating fiction from reality. Emma Watson is no stranger to this issue, as she famously played the brightest witch of her age, Hermione Granger, in eight Harry Potter films over a decade. The Potter series has come to a close, but to many Watson will always be Hermione.

In 2014, however, she showed that she was so much more than a sweet and smart wizard—she has truly proven herself to be a talented actress and individual; in other words, Watson is no one hit wonder.

What were her biggest moments of 2014, you may ask? She starred in the biblical epic Noah alongside Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, received her degree in English literature at Brown, and recently won the "Best British Style" award at the British Fashion Awards.

But perhaps her most shining moment of the year was her work with the United Nations as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, culminating in her September speech at the United Nations Headquarters advocating for gender equality and the HeForShe Campaign. She spoke eloquently and intelligently on the subject, showing that she is just as inspirational and smart (if not more so) as Hermione. It's so important, too, that we have a young actress who is well-known amongst the adolescent crowd that is setting a wonderful example and spreading a positive message of gender equality. When so many young actresses are quick to distance themselves from the feminist movement, it's good to know that good influences like Watson are proud to take on the label and fight for further equality.

Sure, Watson is chic as ever with her black and white ensembles, edgy jewelry, bright lip colors, and inventive hairstyles; there's a reason why she's in the front row at every major fashion show and winning awards for her incredible style. But more than anything, it is her success as a role model and activist that makes her one of 2014's top It Girls.

Watch Watson's Speech at the United Nations:

The Girls of 2014 — No. 5

Gucci Premiere | Michael Kors | Kaufmanfranco | Michael Kors | Valentino | Gucci
After taking a little bit of time out of the spotlight, Blake Lively exploded into 2014 with outfit perfection after outfit perfection. Lively has had one of the most successful years in every way possible—career-wise, personally, and of course, fashion-wise.

What are some of Lively's 2014 highlights? She continued to dazzle as Gucci's spokesmodel in flawless custom creations from the atelier (and she's also a muse for Michael Kors), she launched her boho lifestyle website Preserve, and she's pregnant! She also was the hands-down Queen of Cannes, became besties with Martha Stewart, and is prepping for the release of her latest film, The Age of Adaline, about a woman who never ages (because of course not. Plus, it's an excuse to see Lively in period costumes). So she's had an amazing 2014 and I know 2015 is going to be even better! And she's going to be a mother, which is so exciting, and also that child is going to be beautiful. Ryan Reynolds as your dad and Serena Van Der Woodsen as your mom? That's just unfair!

Style-wise, Lively has perfected her personal blend of Hollywood glamour and modern bohemian. She'll show up in glam Veronica Lake curls and vintage-style dress one day and in a loose-fitting floral frock with wavy tresses the next. She's also totally won with her maternity style. Seriously, a baby bump has never looked this chic!

Blake aka the Queen of Cannes 2014
Gucci Premiere | Chanel Couture | Gucci Premiere

The Girls of 2014 - No. 6

Olcay Gulsen | Fausto Puglisi | Emilio Pucci | Yigal Azrouël | Black Top and Pants | Chanel
What's a year-end list without a little controversy? Kendall Jenner is an incredibly polarizing figure in fashion and beyond, but love her or hate her you cannot deny that she has been everywhere this year. The full-on explosion of Jenner's modelling career cannot be ignored, regardless of whether or not you think she deserves the recognition.

It started back in the spring, when a virtually unrecognizable (and eyebrow-less) Jenner walked for Marc Jacobs in what some considered a rather scandalous outfit. In Paris she walked for Givenchy and Chanel, and from there the fashion industry went crazy with Kendall fever. She's landed coveted campaigns, walked in the top runway shows, and she's been featured in just about every major fashion magazine. At just nineteen years old Kendall Jenner has become one of the top models in the world, and that is no easy feat.

True, she's gotten by with a little help from her famous family, but personally I think she is talented. She's worked hard, and while she may not have started from the bottom, she is here and she is a fashion force to be reckoned with. Nepotism only gets you so far. Talent will take you further, and like it or not Jenner has it.

She's got fabulous personal style as well. She's a fan of black and white, and she's not afraid of playing up her best features. Whether she's wearing an elongating jumpsuit or up-to-there slits to show off her long legs, Jenner has already figured out what works best with her figure while maintaining a youthful personal style. It's a tricky thing that a lot of famous teens face—wanting to appear more mature than they really are—but luckily Jenner usually doesn't fall for the mature dressing trap. She looks gorgeous and current, and I know that 2015 will bring many more fashion successes both on the runway and on the red carpet.

Kendall Jenner is a controversial topic in the fashion model world. Do you think she has what it takes, or is her modelling career all thanks to her family?

The Girls of 2014 — No. 7

Dior Couture | Dior | Dior | Dior | Dior Couture | Jason Wu
If 2013 was the Year of J-Law, then 2014 was the year that she ensured her lasting power as a style icon. With a fresh new bob, a lustworthy Christian Dior Couture wardrobe, and a slew of blockbuster films, Lawrence is certainly here to stay.

What did 2014 bring for Jennifer Lawrence? Mockingjay: Part I and X-Men: Days of Future Past meant plenty of red carpet opportunities for America's most relatable actress. She stunned at Cannes (the Dior crop top outfit is one of my favorite looks of hers, beating poofy ball gowns and other more dramatic red carpet looks) and has shown she has great style even when she's just running errands.

In the next year, Lawrence has starring roles in Serena alongside Bradley Cooper in addition to the final installment of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay: Part II. But fear not! Katniss's journey may be coming to a close, but the 24-year-old starlet is just getting started! We're going to be seeing Lawrence's lasting starpower and fashion prowess for a long, long time.

Trending — Work of Art

Novis | Zimmermann | Alice + Olivia | Kenzo | Carven | Antonio Marras
Fashion and art are more interrelated than one may initially think—it's the whole reason why I'm majoring in art history as I prepare for a career in fashion. Designers endlessly draw inspiration from artwork and movements, and artists are often hired to collaborate on prints and collections. And with textile printing technology continues to progress (just look at Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto, who have made careers off of cool digital prints) printed pieces are totally cool again.

Graphic prints are way cooler than boring graphic tees; they are pop art pieces that you can wear! Plus, you'll look like the most cultured woman in the room when you walk in wearing a Matisse-inspired Alice + Olivia midi or a chic Kenzo sweatshirt.

The best part? Graphic art prints can show up in a dress and work as an eye-catching statement piece, or you can wear a cool purse or shoe and accessorize with a little work of art. The choice is yours!

Shop Modern Art Pieces:

Barbie's Got a Brand New 'Do


Sometimes you need a bit of a change! Nothing too drastic, just a good four or five inches off to breathe some new life into my hair. Looks good with a red lip, doesn't it?

What I'm Wearing:

The Girls of 2014 - No. 8

Chanel Couture | Gucci | Burberry Prorsum | Burberry | Burberry
The jury is still out on whether or not the Supermodel still exists, but if they do then Cara Delevingne is certainly one. In the past few years Cara has become a household name, and no matter how you discovered her—as a high fashion model, as a Victoria's Secret Angel, as an eyebrow icon, or even a subject of pronunciation confusion for Reese Witherspoon—you know who she is.

Cara's a bit polarizing; you either love her or love to hate her, but one thing is clear: you cannot escape Cara. Recently named Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, Cara has had an outstanding year. She's Karl Lagerfeld's muse, she's landed countless magazine covers and editorials, and she's just been cast in two highly-anticipated new movies (yes, Delevingne is trying the model-actor route): as Margo in the film adaptation of John Green's Paper Towns and June Moone aka Enchantress in DC's Suicide Squad.

Style-wise, Cara is most known for her tomboy off-duty style, but I think it's in her red carpet appearances that she truly shines. She's a true queen of glam and isn't afraid of a dazzling sparkle or daring slit or sheer skirt. Even her menswear-inspired blue tuxedo is sexy and edgy, and the sneakers add a fun touch. She's got serious style but doesn't take herself too seriously. In essence, Cara has the "cool" factor.

And really, isn't that what being an It Girl is all about?

The Girls of 2014 — No. 9

Delpozo | Lanvin | Lanvin | Calvin Klein | Lanvin
There's something to be said for the elusive style chameleon, who can be dainty and girly one day and fierce and sleek the next. Rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw expertly transforms from one look to the next with ease, and each look is an absolute delight.

The British actress has had a huge year on both the red carpet and on the silver screen, with two big films this year (the groundbreaking period drama Belle and the fame-exploring Beyond the Lights) and several other projects currently in the works.

Mbatha-Raw is just as stunning with her fashionable looks as she is in her films. A lover of Lanvin, she's not afraid to try a bold print or an unusual silhouette, but she'll stun just as well in a simple colored sheath. Her hair and makeup looks are also fabulous, and I love how she can rock a bold pink lip just as much as a nude makeup look.

When one thinks of a rising It Girl, there is no one better than Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She's had a fantastic 2014 and 2015 looks to be just as bright!

The Girls of 2014 - No. 10

Elie Saab | Chanel | Pamella Roland | Maticevski | Elie Saab
I'm sure it can be challenging to make a name for yourself as the offspring of a world-famous musician, but Lily Collins has done so with ease! To kick off the annual It Girls of the Year list, we look to the glamourous young actress who really stepped it up a notch style-wise this year.

A fan of Elie Saab and Chanel, Collins oscillates between breathtaking ballgowns and modern minimalist chic. She stunned in a purple watercolor Elie Saab gown at the Rome Film Festival—perhaps one of the best celebrity looks of the whole year! But she looks just as fabulous rocking a structured crop top or a new-look style gown in a vibrant orange.

Collins has also had one heck of a beauty year. Her of-the-moment bob is both mature and youthful, and adds a modern glamour to all of her looks, whether she is dazzling on the red carpet or just going grocery shopping. She's also a fan of a bold lipstick, so what's not to like?

What's up next for Lily Collins in 2015? She's been promoting her most recent film Love, Rosie internationally, but other than that she has a role in the upcoming, yet-to-be-named Warren Beatty film, set to be released next year.

Who do you think will round out the rest of the list?

The It Color of 2015 Is...

image via pantone.com
The same company that made "Radiant Orchid" pop up everywhere has named a new it-color for 2015: marsala. Pantone describes the 2015 Color of the Year as "a naturally robust and earthy wine red" that "enriches our minds, bodies and souls."Well, okay then.

It's a big jump from last year's vibrant hue, more of a matte oxblood than anything else. And in the short while since Pantone's announcement, there's already been some staunch criticisms about the color and the images it conjures. Who knew a trendy color could be so controversial!?

No matter, there's no denying that marsala has been featured quite prevalently on the Spring 2015 runways. Take a look for yourself!

Christopher Kane | Creatures of the Wind | Derek Lam | Christian Dior | Jil Sander | Thakoon
So, what do you think of marsala? Is Pantone on the money with their color predictions, or does this choice have you scratching your head?

The Hills Are Alive

Image via style.com
With Karl Lagerfeld there's no half-assing a project. You either take it to the extreme or you don't do it at all. His latest Métiers d'Art collection (Chanel's version of pre-fall) is no exception. The decadent Schloss Leopoldskron outside Salzburg, Austria, is where the 2015 show took place, and Karl did not hesitate to draw from the many rich sources of inspiration he had at his disposal.

Drawing from typical Tyrolean attire, models traipsed through the dining rooms and libraries of the baroque estate in lederhosen, feathered hats, and embroidered cloaks. Frocks made from curtains these were not; no, this was Chanel at its finest and most extravagant.

Flawless frauleins at the Chanel Métiers d'Art presentation in Austria; images via style.com
As it should be, too. The Métiers d'Art collection is first and foremost a celebration of the craftsmen and artisans of the Chanel brand, a nod to all the tiny details that make Chanel so extraordinary. The clothes presented were over-the-top Alpine, a couture Disneyland fantasy world. And there is a fairytale quality to these clothes, and not just because I think of figures from "It's A Small World" upon viewing this collection. I almost want there to be a live-action fairytale film where the entire cast is outfitted with looks from this collection because these clothes are so fantastic, so kitsch in their appropriation of Tyrolean dress, and oh so very fun.

Speaking of fairytales, the association with a fantastical fairytale presence becomes more apparent when one considers Lagerfeld's newly released fashion short-film that features Pharrell Williams and it-girl model Cara Delevingne as "reincarnations" of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, respectively. "Sissi" he calls her as they waltz in the twilight to a song that was written by Pharrell (and we get to hear Cara's lovely singing voice, too!). But it's also "CC" as in, the interlocking C logo and the initials of founder Coco Chanel.

Lagerfeld is an artist and a showman, as collections like this prove time and time again, but he's also a businessman. He'll find any way he can to associate his inspirations directly with the Chanel brand, from "Sissi"/"CC" to the interlocking C hand motions Pharrell makes while dancing, to an appearance by the legend Chanel herself (played by a plucky Géraldine Chaplin). There's no confusion: the Chanel brand is everywhere.

images via style.com
No one does over-the-top quite like Lagerfeld, nor so well; from anyone else, this collection is ridiculous and out of touch with trends that will affect the masses. But mark my words, I pray to the fashion gods that a revival of the Tyrolean feather hat comes about, because it is actually an awesome look, especially when the Chanel girls pull it off so convincingly. 

Watch Pharrell Williams and Cara Delevingne in "Reincarnation":