What were you, 2018?
As a befuddling year comes to its grinding close, it is hard to remember, much less catalog, everything that has barreled down the pike. A swirl of controversy seeping upward to the highest reaches of government (“Law & Order: The United States”). The seemingly unstoppable tumble toward the legalization of marijuana (and the calls for vacating past low-level convictions). Clouds of cucumber vape. The bruising midterm elections.
The Great Awokening. The desperate calls to green the world (just in time for the news that it may be too late). The arrival of the Four Horsemen: Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat. The world’s new favorite vacation destination: Wakanda.
How can we take stock of a year that brought us, and subjected us to, so much?
Easy. This is late capitalism, after all. It’s the stuff.
It may be a long time before we apprehend the full measure of the slogs and successes of the year, but until then, there are the things: What we bought (and hoped to), what we self-soothed and self-improved with, what we wore (and how we wore it). Here, five of them that defined the stylish year.
In a teeth-chattering age of anxiety, it only makes sense that there would be CBD. Cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical derived from hemp (and cousin to THC, the compound that gets you stoned), promises bliss without blur: a relaxing and pain-relieving feeling of contentment and calm — without the giggles or the munchies. A workaholic’s weed, in short, though some are dubious.
Suddenly, in 2018, CBD was everywhere, a steady drip of drops: tinctures and tonics, stirred into lattes, poured over soft serve or into almond butter, even given to the family dog.
“Our business has exploded this year,” said Robert Rosenheck, founder and chief executive of Lord Jones, one of the more established labels of the current crop. In October, Sephora, the mega-mart of cosmetics, added Lord Jones’ High CBD Formula Body Lotion to its assortment, the first, and to date only, CBD product it carries. Hora Skin Care, a startup line, began this year with a serum and has since added an overnight exfoliating mask.
Not to be outdone, good old-fashioned cannabis is enjoying a beauty moment, too. Milk Makeup introduced a mascara with “conditioning, hemp-derived cannabis oil” on April 20 for maximum comedic effect. It became a top seller and has added 35 percent to the brand’s bottom line since its introduction, according to the company.
A Kush brow gel followed — “Do something dope for your brows” — as did a lip glaze and lip balm.
The “It” accessory of the year is smaller than a pochette, holds next to nothing and requires regular recharging. It is the Juul, the sleek, finger-size vape of infamous ubiquity. The first issue of the revived Interview magazine, in September, included a Juul fashion spread under the headline “Fall’s Most Ubiquitous Accessory Is a Juul.”
Juul’s dominance in the e-cigarette market is undeniable. Bloomberg reported in June that it had captured 68 percent of the category, and it is such a phenomenon that, as The New Yorker put it in May, “Saying the word ‘Juul’ in front of a group of young people with spending money is like dropping an everything bagel into a flock of pigeons in a public park.”
Fashion Nova x Cardi B
Our Lady of 2018, Belcalis Almanzar — better known by her confirmation name, Cardi B — ruled the year in pop culture through sheer largess. Who gave more — in drama, in singles, in guest verses, in news, in feuds, in brawls?
It is an oft-mentioned fact that Cardi came from the world of reality TV, but now she runs the show. She was a co-host of “The Tonight Show” and found even that too small, instead taking her show direct to her Instagram, where she filmed viral videos monologuing her way through her beef with Nicki Minaj. She announced her pregnancy on “Saturday Night Live,” had her baby, broke up with her husband. In the course of it all, she put out one of the year’s best albums.
The year had barely begun when the commandment came from on high. “He sent me a whole email, like, ‘You cannot wear big glasses anymore. It’s all about tiny little glasses.’ ” Thus spake Kanye West to his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and, via the bully pulpit of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” to all of us.
In the larger culture, West’s place has been debated, but in fashion, his influence remains strong. Interest in his Yeezy sneakers may not be what it once was, but tiny sunglasses did become, for a time, omnipresent, part of fashion’s continued obsession with recreating nostalgic looks with near surgical precision.
“He sent me, like, millions of ’90s photos with tiny little glasses like this,” Kardashian West said on the show. Similar pairs shielded Beyoncé, the Hadids, Kendall Jenner and others from the sun.
The Statement T-shirt
Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss, has been rising in the ranks of fashion for years, but his September fashion show, held in Brooklyn, N.Y., and scored by a robed gospel choir, had the feeling of a coronation. Before the year was out, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America had awarded him their Fashion Fund trophy, heralding him as an important new voice.
Jean-Raymond, who is Haitian-American, has kept the black experience, historically underrepresented in the upper echelons of fashion, at the center of his work and has dived into politics in an industry that often skirts it for the sake of sales.
A T-shirt from his September collection, inscribed “Stop Calling 911 on the Culture,” made dark reference to the unsettling frequency with which white Americans called the police on their black neighbors in 2018, a year that gave us “BBQ Becky” in Oakland, Calif., among several other incidents.
The T-shirt went on sale after the show and quickly sold out. Part of the profits went to the Innocence Project, which works to reverse wrongful convictions.