The Year's Fashion Lowlights

Presenting the first annual list of style's ugly moments

It's the very last week of 2008, the worst 12 months in living memory for the fashion business, an annus horribilis if ever there was one. All of which means it's time for the first annual (and maybe last annual) Village Voice Lowlights of Fashion Awards. Ready? OK, let's start small with the . . .

Worst Choice of Dress for the Most Electrifying Moment in Recent U.S. Political Life: Michelle Obama's red-and-black Narciso Rodriguez debacle in Grant Park on election night. We love the way Michelle embraces young American designers (they could sure use a boost in 2009), but this fiasco should be left at the Goodwill when the Obama family leaves for Washington, where it can keep company with the . . .

Most Excessive Alleged Donation of Clothes Ever Bequeathed in the History of Charity: Sarah Palin's $150,000 worth of duds from Saks and Neiman's. (Check the secondhand shops in Wasilla if you're looking for a smart little suit with a fancy provenance.) Which leads us to wonder: Did Sarah Jessica Parker get to keep the thousands of dollars' worth of costumes she wore in the . . .

Worst Fashion Movie of 2008, and Probably Lots of Other Years, Too: The terribly written, totally bogus, abysmal Sex and the City movie, which, except for the characters' names, bore no resemblance to the beloved and wonderful TV series. Actually, it was a harsh year for SJP all around, since her ridiculously inexpensive Bitten line was the cornerstone of Steve & Barry's, just one of the many retailers to tank during the . . .

Worst Era for Clothing Stores Since 1932: Here is just a partial list of retailers sinking into quicksand: the weird Russian Kira Plastinina, which has 12 stores in the U.S., is reportedly this far from declaring bankruptcy; Ann Taylor is closing 117 stores nationwide; Eddie Bauer's burying 37; Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherine's are each losing 150 stores nationwide; Gap's murdering 85 stores; Foot Locker is shuttering 140; Zales is dumping over 100 "underperformers"; Wilson's Leather's deep-sixing 158; and Pacific Sunwear is obliterating 154 outlets. Well, at least there are no Marc Jacobs boutiques on the list, even though Marc was involved in the . . .

Most Brazen Attempt to Be Cooler-Than-Cool and Secure the Park Avenue Armory for Your Exclusive Use During Fashion Week Even if It's a Teeny Bit Illegal: Marc Jacobs's company reportedly paid a million dollars to settle bribery allegations related to his relationship with the armory. Of course, the MJ company's crime pales when compared to the sins of Wal-Mart, the latest and most horrible being the death of Jdimytai Damour, who was trampled to death by an out-of-control crowd on Black Friday because Wal-Mart was criminally negligent about security. Damour joins these other . . .

Sad Losses of 2008: The elegant Yves St. Laurent, who put women in tuxedos and safari jackets and brought a refined street sensibility to the couture catwalks, and Richard Sylvan Selzer, a/k/a Mr. Blackwell, who created the "Ten Worst-Dressed Women List," which eviscerated everyone from Martha Stewart—"Dull, dowdy, and devastatingly dreary"—to Cher—"A million beads, and one overexposed derriere." If only those ladies stuck to St. Laurent, they would never have made the list. And now, Cher, Martha, you can pick up vintage YSL duds at reduced prices because of the . . .

Best Thing to Come Out of the Economic Crisis: The Euro and the pound are sliding against the dollar, which means you can plan a trip to Europe and visit those wonderful Parisian department stores you love. (Don't worry! That dynamite the French police found last week in the bathroom at Au Printemps didn't go off!) Though the Euro has recovered a bit of late, here's hoping Europe sinks into worse trouble than ever. Otherwise, we'll just have to stay home in our bunny pajamas and watch some of the . . .

Most Unexpected Developments in Fashion TV: 1) The first-ever transsexual contestant who lit up America's Next Top Model—"My cards were dealt differently," the 22-year-old aspirant, Isis, told Us Weekly; and 2) the disappearance of Project Runway, the odd outcome of its being fought over by NBC Universal and Lifetime, resulting in this peculiar conundrum: People actually liked it, so now Heidi Klum's not on the air? Oh, well. Too bad we can't just turn off the TV and go out to eat at our favorite bistro in the meatpacking district, but our spot suffered the . . .

Most Tragic Result of Revolting Gentrification: The closure of Florent on Gansevoort Street last spring, the final gasp in a dying battle against the dull shops and overpriced eateries that now swamp these cobblestoned streets. The only possible upside is that drunken, callow Wall Streeters may no longer be able to afford these swanky dumps, which could lead to mass closures, returning the area to its historic role as a hooker-friendly backwater. But who needs designer duds bought for exorbitant prices on far West 14th Street when you're carrying the . . .

Preachiest Politically Correct Tote to Replace Vuitton, Fendi, et al.: The "I Am Not a Plastic Bag" canvas sack by Anya Hindmarch. Pretty soon, it could change its name to "I Am Not a Bag That Costs Six Cents," which is what Mayor Bloomberg is proposing stores charge for those plastic bags we've all grown so accustomed to. Now, not only will we have to fork over our loose change to tote those Lean Cuisines home from Gristedes, but we'll be paying through the nose for everything else because of the . . .

Most Distressing News to Emerge Thus Far From the Office of David Paterson: The sales tax on clothing is going up! The guv wants to take away the tax-free status of clothes under $110. (He's also proposing jacking up the tax on luxury goods like jewelry and furs costing over $20,000, but it's kind of hard to be too upset about that.) Plus it'll probably cost more to get to the stores and take longer to get there because, in case you haven't heard, mass transit is in the toilet. (Buy a $50,000 watch. Maybe some of the extra tax revenue will be diverted to the L train.) Then again, when you get to the stores, there is at least something positive to report. This year, expect to see the . . .

Best End-of-Year Sales in Recorded History!: If everything is 80 percent off now, what's it going to be on December 26? Ninety-nine percent off? Happy holidays!

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