Fashion In Flashback: 12 Noteworthy Fashion Moments of 2021

From viral runway moments to Priyanka Chopra slaying the red carpet—2021 was a year of both hits and misses.

Published On Dec 30, 2021 | Updated On Feb 22, 2024


When the pandemic hit us in 2020, we thought 2021 would be the ‘post-pandemic’ year—but alas! It wasn’t so. However, in fashion, this year brought back a lot of red carpet moments, movie promotion looks, AND unlocking of the digital world—and so, overall, the fashion industry got resurrected.

As we march towards 2022, we look back at the key moments and significant developments from the fashion industry that amused and excited us:

With another year spent at home, we were again bingeing on TV shows and OTT films to feel connected to the outside world. One show that definitely struck a chord was Bridgerton. The show starring Rege Jean Page as Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings and Phoebe Dyenvor as Daphne Bridgerton gave social media's most drool-worthy couple. The show also gave us ‘regencycore’—a fitting (and trending) ode to spring 2021, marked by regal fashion choices, which include shimmering headpieces, pearl baubles, and voluminous silhouettes. Moreover, this series brought back the trend of wearing and reinventing the classical corsets and period costumes. 

Sex and the City is one of the most fashionable television programmes of all time and 2021 saw it return to the small screen with And Just Like That…, a 10-episode sequel to the original “SATC” series. Be it Charlotte's penchant for pink or Carrie's undying love for towering heels, SATC again revolutionised the trends coming in. However, the noteworthy moment is stolen by Miranda in her turtlenecks to plunging necklines, her style certainly shifted throughout the years. 

Then came, Succession that sneakily became one of those sartorially-blessed series whose fashion moments trend as often as the plot twists do. 

Not to forget Emily in Paris Season 2 that gave fans and fashion critics some outrageous and obsession-worthy style to rave about, and of course, House of Gucci - one that came with a hell of a story and iconic luxury fashion feasts.

You must be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about the viral sensation of the year, Squid Game. The Korean series ranks amongst Netflix’s most-watched productions and had the world gripped in a frenzy—igniting a number of mega-viral trends. Retro tracksuits saw an insane surge, thus defining a hot moment under the fashion spotlight, along with white sneakers. Perfect for cosy, at-home dressing right? An off-duty essential that has become a big part of our closet, tracksuits are now ruling sartorial choices. 

The pandemic has given rise to many trends—those that will make you nostalgic, those that will make you happy, and those that can help lift your spirit in depressing times. For ages, it has been said that the colour of your clothes has a direct impact on your mood. 

Another style moment that burst out in full power in 2021 was ‘dopamine dressing’. Featuring neon palettes, tie-dye, and even colourful plastic jewellery—it is believed that this way of dressing can improve the wearer's mood. When we feel good about what we are wearing, we tend to be more confident, isn't it? For some people, bright colours do the trick; while for others, a favourite pair of joggers and a jumper can uplight their mood. Ultimately, dopamine dressing is whatever makes you feel good.

How many times have you heard or read about Y2K in the past year? Y2K fashion trends lived in our minds rent-free, and most of us were actually obsessed with it in 2021. Early 2000s fashion was equal parts iconic and tragic. In the decade that was defined by velour tracksuits and trucker hats, there was a lot to love (and also hate). Some celebrities like Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid made a strong case for the return of some key fashion trends. Closer home, Khushi Kapoor (actress Janhvi Kapoor’s sister), Shanaya Kapoor, and Ananya Panday made everything old new again. We saw halter tops, cropped baby tees, pleated skirts, bucket hats, and even low-rise pants make a comeback.

When the pandemic began, fashion giants began experimenting with gaming and virtual reality. Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga-themed video games made fashion arrive enter a truly digital state of being. But 2021 saw some of the most agenda-setting brands move past concepts and actually invest real money in the metaverse as Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci all sold NFTs. 
Now, you’ve probably heard of non-fungible tokens. More commonly known as NFTs, they are one-of-a-kind assets that can take the form of practically anything digital—be it art, music, or even your own voice notes. Essentially, they are like digital collector’s items—instead of buying a physical painting, you purchase a digital file. At the home front, designer Manish Malhotra—in collaboration with WazirX, Lakme Fashion Week, and FDCI—minted and unveiled five NFTs which could be defined as a momentous landmark in Malhotra's journey and Indian fashion. 

We clearly binge-watched a lot this year. Blair Waldorf and Serena Van Der Woodsen were the sartorial guardian angels for kids growing up in the 2010s. It wasn’t easy to reach the benchmarks set by these two iconic characters—though the reboot did manage to create impact.  The cast managed to show off their personal style with a lust-worthy collection of ‘it’ bags, statement shoes, and neckties. The show also proved that it was time to get over heels and welcome a trendy collection of sneakers and croc boots—and even consider a buzz cut. The new reboot echoed every Gen-Z’s statement wardrobe, read: oversized cardigans, jumpers, sweater vests, tailored pants, preppy tops, bodysuits, and turtlenecks. Basically, a stylish reincarnation happened and Instagram was once again the hub of these ‘It’ styles.

Global icon and our very own desi girl, Priyanka Chopra was probably on every major fashion platform’s ‘best dressed’ list. Thanks to the promotions for Matrix: Resurrections, she has been serving looks with her fashion statements. Be it her Halpern Studio gown in multi-tonal sparkle, a striking red pantsuit right in time for the holidays, a sheer black jumpsuit paired with a stunning blazer, or her serpentine-like braid—she took the glam game mighty high. 

Daring, sultry, and bold is what this fashion trend was all about. Be it high-end fashion, street style, or a number straight off the runway—pin tops got celebrities bringing their own kind of renditions. It all started with celebrated designer Simon Porte Jacquemus SS’22 show when he called upon his supermodel friends to walk the runway show, titled La Montagne, in a film studio in the outskirts of Paris. Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Adut Akech wore his skin-baring pin tops. In the next few months, more and more people adopted this look. Chic yet sublime is how we want to define these pin tops! Closer home, the B-town Gen-Z fashion girls - Shanaya Kapoor, Suhana Khan carried a whole lot of these trends that became quite a conversation-starter.
Not just this, there was another skin-baring trend called ‘midriff flossing’ with crisscrossing cords and wraparound details flooding our Instagram feeds—and its sister trend ‘pelvic cutout’ that had most girls donning risqué outfits, making fashion all about fun and going freestyle again.

The fashion industry mourned the loss of several prominent talents in the field this year. Most recently, the news of Louis Vuitton’s eminent menswear designer—and founder of streetwear brand Off-White—Virgil Abloh’s passing shook the world. Abloh is credited with injecting luxury into streetwear and is famed for his trailblazing vision of fashion. 

In March this year, jewellery designer Elsa Peretti, known for her many distinctively organic-looking creations for Tiffany & Co, passed away. A masterful artisan, Peretti brought a revolution in the ecosystem of jewellery design. Over the past 50 years, she crafted several innovative designs and her collections of organic, sensual forms rejuvenated generations. She explored jewellery with the acumen of a scientist and the vision of a sculptor. Her cuff bracelets, bean designs, and open-heart pendants remain some of her most appreciated work.

The first Indian woman to debut at Paris Haute Couture, designer Vaishali Shadangule, uplifted her signature handloom weaves to couture in July.  Founder of the eponymous brand Vaishali S,  who started in 2001, Vaishali's designs and her craft are one of a kind - sculpted and tailored to beautifully wear the human body taking the form of 'wearable art. 

Immediately in August, like millions who have been forever wishing to own a Sabyasachi creation in their wardrobe, the iconic Sabyasachi x H&M collaboration presented rich textiles in modern as well as classic Indian silhouettes that resonated with the modern global nomad mindset. This collaboration came as a great opportunity to further the Indian narrative and make affordable designer clothing to reach out to a larger audience.

As the world kept battling a global pandemic, most of us started embracing the real us. In the beauty world, that meant accepting the various signs of ageing that lead to looking at most of the celebrities enjoying the natural ‘salt and pepper’ looks. The shift towards embracing grey hair was a breakthrough moment. We saw at the Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet, 63-year-old Andie MacDowell’s rock her natural salt-and-pepper curls or 'silver fox hair'; while Sarah Jessica Parker was photographed with their silver strands out and proud. Closer home, when actress Neha Dhupia defined this trend with her photoshoot, she definitely got the conversation stirring!

The most talked-about bride of the season was definitely actress Katrina Kaif. Both Katrina and Vicky Kaushal’s wedding wardrobe made headlines for their custom Sabyasachi ensembles for all the ceremonies as did their intimate and grand wedding in Rajasthan. For the main day, Katrina went for the classic ‘Indian bridal’ ensemble in a glorious red Sabyasachi lehenga, covered with rich gold embroidery and featuring broad gold borders as well. With every photo of her bridal looks, she has only set the bar higher for brides-to-be. To honour her British roots, Katrina wore a blush pink floral embroidered saree which she paired with a full sleeve floral blouse and a veil. She has definitely set wedding fashion goals for the upcoming wedding season. 

Photo: Instagram/ And Just Like That Max