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Diet Prada Sounds Off on 2018's Biggest Fashion Controversies

"I think that every designer in the world is following Diet Prada," the beloved former Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz told me mid-New York Fashion Week in September. Since Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler created the Instagram account four years ago, Diet Prada has transformed into the industry's biggest (and favorite) watchdog, thanks in part to shoutouts from the likes of Naomi Campbell. And yet the fashion establishment still hesitates to fully embrace Diet Prada. When I pressed Elbaz on his support of the account, he cautioned: "I think we’ll have to stop there."

The hesitation is understandable. Diet Prada remains one of the few fashion observers with real clout to disobey one of its cardinal rules: calling out the industry power players that no one else dares touch. And, somehow, abandoning their anonymity at the end of 2017 only seems to have emboldened the pair, who have gotten increasingly involved in the drama themselves. Their ongoing feud with Dolce & Gabbana—which started selling knockoffs of Diet Prada merch for 12 times the price this past summer—for example, exploded into a full-scale scandal this past November, when the duo played a key role in Dolce & Gabbana's blockbuster China show being canceled amid widespread accusations of racism.

But that, of course, wasn't the only rollercoaster to take fashion for a ride in 2018. And since, as another controversial figure once put it, "those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it," it's worth taking a closer look back at this year's scandals and drama before heading into 2019. (As well as, of course, revisiting fond memories like the girl who stole the Louis Vuitton show with a Juul.) Read on for a recap from the pros, here.

Now that 2018's almost come to an end, who would you say surprised you the least in stirring up controversy?
Probably Dolce & Gabbana—the chopsticks video and the resulting racist DMs from Stefano [Gabbana] that we published. They've been caught so many times doing this type of thing that it wasn't surprising in the least, although the scope of the nastiness was much larger than the usual bigotry that Stefano has been known for.

Who surprised you the most?
We were really surprised by Thom Browne and his decision to show basically bound and gagged women on the runway. The timing was really awful with the show happening just as the [Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh hearings were wrapping up, but it just felt like a misstep after a landmark year of #metoo progress.

Also surprising was #HATGATE, when Simon Porte Jacquemus denounced our post [embedded below] as "fake news." The Trumpian rhetoric was surprising coming from one of fashion's bright young talents... especially considering that our post was just a recap of Vogue Mexico's clarification of the hat's origins.

Who offended you the most this year?
Stefano [Gabbana], without a doubt.

Do you think anyone came close to Stefano Gabbana in causing the most uproar?
I think Stefano is going to be hard to beat for years to come in causing not just uproar, but fallout. His remarks literally cost him millions of dollars in a single day, with longterm effects still to be determined. People don't seem to be forgetting this one, either—we're still getting sent posts of any celebs, influencers, etc. that are still wearing Dolce, stores that are featuring them in the windows, etc.

What was your favorite niche drama of the year?
The few fashion show cameos we featured spring to mind, like #vuittonvapegirl (a girl Juul-ing front row at Louis Vuitton):

There was also the IRL The Devil Wears Prada moment from Michael Kors's SS19 livestream, where an unidentified assistant waited for Anna Wintour's arrival in front of her empty seat with Starbucks in hand. Sure enough, she showed up moments later sipping that same Starbucks.

What do you think was the biggest drama in modeling?
The New York Times' exposé on the male model sexual assault allegations against [photographers] Bruce Weber and Mario Testino.

What do you think was the biggest drama on the runway?
It was the good kind of drama: Jane Birkin rising up in the middle of the Gucci SS19 show in a famous Parisian theater and singing a capella for two minutes.

What do you think was this year's biggest drama surrounding design, or most egregious knockoff?

There's so many, but one we won't soon forget was when Emilia Wickstead threw shade at Meghan Markle for her Givenchy wedding dress... the fit and being similarly boatnecked to one of her designs. (Not to mention the wisps of hair she had a problem with.) [Wickstead told the Daily Mail: "I was like, 'Hold the wisps back—it’s a royal wedding, for god’s sake,'" then later issued an apology stating that she did not think the dress was a copy.]

As far as the most egregious knockoff... probably Hedi Slimane's reissues of his Saint Laurent for the new Celine.

Are there any people or brands you think have managed to be uncontroversial/pure?
Nobody's perfect, but we're liking the trend of brands that are managing to use feedback constructively to do better.

Are there any that you think are immune to controversy?
No. At least, we would have thought so, but then we saw what happened with Prada and the blackface tchotchkes.

[In response to the outrage, Prada quickly issued an apology and pulled the $550 tchotchkes from circulation, then announced that it would be forming an advisory council "to guide our efforts on diversity, inclusion and culture."]

Who do you think won 2018?
Dieters lol.

Who do you think will be taken down in 2019? And who's on the cusp, who we should keep an eye on in the new year?
We really hope someone is looking seriously into the accusations [of sending inappropriate messages to a minor] against Gosha Rubchinskiy, and that people keep paying attention to the pending lawsuits against Bruce Weber.

Is there anything in particular that you think fashion will change in 2019—or that you hope it will?
I hope the fashion industry continues to focus on inclusivity, but also grows to understand that it's a way to build a strong business and community—not just a trend.

Related: How Dolce & Gabbana's Shanghai Show Went From Spectacle to Cancellation