Novella Team Pick the Best and Worst of 2016

Retrospection season is here. Memories with various emotional charges gather in the onset of serious cold, the holidays, and a vague, communal sense of closure. The purpose of such retrospection and lists is, perhaps, to see things in a clearer light. Or, even, to reimagine them in a better one. In an attempt to untangle this busy remembrance of what was, in many ways, a mournful year, the Novella team has surveyed the year in fashion, art, politics, and culture to come up with the Best and the Worst of 2016. With this, we say good riddance to the bad, farewell to the good, and ‘Hey, boo boo’ to the new year.

 – Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief  –

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Solange

  Best 

Growing up in the shadow of an older sibling can be tough, but growing up and having Beyonce as your older sister is a whole other level. After releasing Sol-Angel and the Hadley St.Dreams and True EP, and becoming a fashion darling, Solange still struggled a bit to break out of the shadow of her sister. On September 30, 2016, she was no longer Beyonce’s little sister. She was an artist with a number one album A Seat at the Table.

Solange managed to not only deliver an amazing album, but also showcase her personal growth and make a musical statement on what’s happening in the world. Since its release, I have A Seat at the Table on repeat and it’s been one of the few good things to come out of 2016.

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Prince

  Worst 

I will be extremely happy when the clock strikes midnight and we can say goodbye to 2016. There were a plethora of worst moments to choose from. However, the death of Prince really hit me hard. Growing up, Prince made me feel that it was okay to be black and weird. I remember watching the video for his song Controversy where he wore a G-string, trench coat, and heels unapologetically and sang while playing his guitar. Prince defied the definitions of being black and of masculinity, and made my younger self accept being gay a little bit easier. I instantly became a fan for life and getting the chance to see the musical genius perform live left me speechless and made a huge impact on me.

 – Celia Fernandez, Fashion Features Editor –

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Best

‘I want to offer you a spot in my class’. How can 10 words be so powerful and make you feel like Santa Claus just gave you a blank check? Ever since Roger Tredre, the Course Leader for MA Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins pronounced those words on September 29th, I’ve been living in a universe full of roses and unicorns. That moment is definitely now in my top 3 happiest moments in my life. This school has ALWAYS been a reference to me, not only because Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Stella McCartney or Christopher Kane are on CSM’s alumni directory — you know, just a couple of people —, but more importantly for the talent and creativity that you sense by the time you get to 1 Granary Square.

After much thought and consideration, last June, I decided that I wanted to apply for the MA Fashion Communication – Fashion Journalism program. Although I was aware of how competitive this school was, you’ll never know if you don’t try, so I thought I should, at least, give it a shot. For two intense months I worked on my application, and the combination of hard work and luck paid off. Here I have to thank my dearest friends Sasha, Bojana and Gabrielle, and my husband Victor for their patience, edits, and honesty to tell me whenever my assignment sounded like a mid-school essay. Also, a big ‘thank you’ to the Novella team that has supported, accompanied, and helped me in getting to that universe of excitement where I live right now. This would have been, if not impossible, definitely very challenging without all of them.

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Worst

I have to say that I share with Drew the sameI-can’t-wait-for-2016-to-be-over feeling. Apart from getting accepted at Central Saint Martins, and other great moments I’ve had during 2016, I am not a huge fan of this year. If I had to pick a title for the last 12 months of my life, I would call it ‘It’s Time to Say Goodbye, but Why Now?’.  That is exactly how I feel. As happy as I am about going back to Europe, leaving Canada makes me feel very sad too. It’s that bittersweetness that one gets about something really good that has devastating side effects — like high heels, you love them and hate them SO MUCH at the same time. In less than three weeks, I will have to say goodbye to quite a few people that have been basically my family during the last two years, and as you can imagine, that sucks.

I hate saying goodbye and apparently my karma has had some issues with me lately and put me through the most painful ‘goodbye’ last March. After a heart surgery and 2 months at the ICU, my dad passed away. I have friends who have lost one of their parents before but you can NEVER EVER imagine how fu**ing painful this is till it happens to you. However, I believe that even these type of ‘situations’ have a positive side. During those two months of visiting my dad at the ICU every single day (whenever the doctors allowed me to be there), I realized that I am way stronger than I thought I was. Also, I’ve never admired and loved my mom and sister as much as I do right now. Before my dad passed away, I thought I was the strong one in the family but now I know I am not. I am just the most arrogant one who likes to play that nothing in life feels too overwhelming to me. But it does — hell yeah…! — and it’s okay. I’m glad I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable and am fine with that. So yes, that was definitely the worst part of this year for me but I have to tell you, 2016: Besides all the pain you put me through, and as much as I can’t wait for  2017 to start, I am not mad at you. You are just the worst pair of high heels I’ve ever worn.

– Isabel Mundigo-Moore, Fashion Editor

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Photo: Breakaway Experiences

Best

Though I was born and raised in Toronto, this year was the first proper year for me living in the city as an adult. Between university and time spent abroad, I somehow haven’t lived in the city as a grown up. So discovering Toronto through an adult-y lens was the best thing about 2016. I learned to love Kensington all over again, discovered new areas of the city to spend time in, and managed to enjoy time at some of the gazillion fantastic restaurants and bars the city has to offer. I had the chance to attend TIFF again for longer than one crammed day as I had done during university. And best of all, I had the chance to join the Novella team, enjoying weekly meetings at 401 Richmond (a heavenly place to conduct business), attending fashion events around the city, dancing at our legendary parties, and attending Toronto Fashion Week as a writer.

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Photo: Rex

Worst

Losing David Bowie at the start of the year was a great loss not only for music, art, and culture, but also for humanity. As people have been saying, he really might have been holding the universe together all along because since he’s left us, things have become a whole lot worse. It broke my heart that such a brilliant soul would no longer contribute his creations. Lucky for us all, as the legacy of artists go, his music will continue to nourish my heart forever, his songs permanently associated with the memories of when I first heard them. I inherited my love for Bowie from my family and will pass it on to mine as his unique magic will permeate all generations.

– Christopher Zaghi, Fashion Editor –

Menswear inspired looks at Gareth Pugh f/w 2016 | Photo: Alessandro Garofalo
Menswear inspired looks at Gareth Pugh f/w 2016 | Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

Best

My pick for the best of 2016 had to be  the gender breakthrough that happened in fashion this year. It’s been decades since fashion has been so open to merging and blurring the lines between genders. It’s almost as if a new renaissance is upon us, where gender no longer means what it used to. In 2016, we saw menswear collections storm down the runway clad in ruffles, sheer fabrics, dramatic silhouettes, and a general softness that hasn’t really been seen in mainstream menswear. In womenswear, masculinity found its home beside feminine softness. Runways were filled to the brim with menswear inspired military silhouettes, extreme 80’s proportions, and oversized slouchy pieces that begged the question, What is male and what is female? But that isn’t the best part about it. This modern gender renaissance represents a push towards leaving behind the notions on what makes us different, and embracing our self-expression. We no longer have to adhere to gender binaries; a man can be an interior designer and be embraced for it, and a woman can be a building contractor without being seen as less than she is. We can thank designers like Alessandro Michele at GucciGareth PughDenma Gvasalia at Balenciaga, and Christopher Bailey at Burberry for kick-starting the change that the fashion world has been craving for years.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski
Photo: Brendan Smialowski

Worst

It may come as a surprise to most people that my pick for the worst of 2016 is Hillary Clinton, the most influential woman of the year, but before you pass quick judgement on me or give up on reading this, I humbly ask you to read on, friend. I didn’t chose Hillary as my worst because of who she is. I chose Hillary Rodham Clinton because of what was done to her. 2016 was set to become one of the most ground breaking year for gender equality since the start of women’s rights movements around the world many decades ago. 2016 was supposed to be the year when a woman who devoted her entire life to building a political career would change the face of western politics forever. Instead, we saw the hopes and dreams of a woman, and an entire nation, shot down by a group of people who wanted nothing more than to defy change.

It broke my heart to know that a woman who spent decades building connections and a level of expertise in a field that has been dominated by men was forced to watch it all come crashing down as a man, who took up politics as a hobby only just a year ago, won the U.S. Presidential Election. All of the steps that women have taken throughout the years, all of the tears and triumphs that were seen in the fight for gender equality were almost single handedly erased by one man. That’s why I picked Hillary as my worst of 2016. Not because she was a woman running for one of the most important political positions in the world but because she was a woman betrayed. She is a woman who represents change and progress, a woman who met every challenge made against her with poise, a woman who strived to break barriers. Yet she had to watch an entire country turn against her to elect a man who will never be as qualified, or deserving, as she is.

– Jordan Dziewir, Contributing Writer –

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Image Credit: IMDB

Best

The films that make a lasting impression on me are ones that give me an insight into a type of person or life that initially seem completely removed from my own reality, while exploring themes and ideas that are universal; by the end, I feel that I have a greater sense of understanding of others. Moonlightthe new film by Barry Jenkins, has definitely stayed with me long after the credits as there are subtle moments in the performances that, at times, hit a raw nerve in me; they came as a surprise. And when a movie can do that, you know you’re going to want to see it again.

No, I did not grow up struggling with my sexuality while living in a slum in Miami with a crack-addicted mother. But jeopardizing one’s sense of self as a way to cope in a world that doesn’t seem to understand, or having people in one’s life who want to be role models despite their own questionable decisions are infinitely relatable themes. And here, they ring so true and are rendered with such heartbreaking honesty that it should be of no surprise that the movie has resonated so well with its audiences. Moments when the Juan (Mahershala Ali) struggles with his conflicting feelings of wanting to be a good father figure despite living a life he knows the young boy, Little (Alex R. Hibbert), should not approve of, were definitely difficult to watch for me. Seriously, give this man an Oscar. And subtleties in Trevante Rhodes’s performance showing how some people can easily bring you back to reliving past insecurities are very poignant. Three weeks after seeing it, scenes and conversations continue to replay in my mind. And at least once a week, I ask myself when I’ll have time to see it again.

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Image Credit: Jewel Samad/Getty Images

Worst

Look, I honestly hate being that person who brings politics into conversations — or articles — that will surely be well-to-do without such a squirmy subject matter, but I can’t deny that the result of U.S presidential election has been on my mind since November 8th. The day after the results came in, it seemed very clear to me that people were largely numb or confused by Hilary Clinton’s loss. How could the person who burdened this election cycle with such arrogant and hateful rhetoric — one that seemed to only prolong the divisiveness of the American political climate —, be declared the individual best suited to move the country in a positive way? Needless to say, when I woke up on November 9th and read the results online, I felt as though I woke up in a world that was slightly darker, more uncertain than the one I went to sleep in. And given how many others were similarly taken aback by the news as well, I can confidently say I wasn’t alone in that regard. So that’s why I think Donald Trump becoming the U.S. president-elect was the worst part of the year. It produced feelings of anxiety concerning the future of the relationship between U.S. and Canada. There now seems to be a looming question mark over the progression of race relations, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights in America. But I think the worst is that it brought forth the realization that maybe we don’t know the world or the people around us as well as we like to think we do. A difficult feeling to digest whatever  your political leanings are.

– Sveta Soloveva, Contributing Writer –

Michael Gormley wearing "the Frontier tuque" and Tala Berkes celebrate their new fashion project at the pop-up and exhibition of 'the best world's tuque'. Photo by Sveta Soloveva
Michael Gormley wearing “the Frontier tuque” and Tala Berkes celebrate their new fashion project at the pop-up and exhibition of ‘the best world’s tuque’. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Best

Besides Drake, TIFF and the CN tower, Toronto gets another international recognition: the Frontier Tuque. Frontier design studio created what they call “the world’s best tuque”. The simple but durable black tuque fits absolutely everyone and looks gorgeous no matter how many years you wear it. Made with cashmere, merino, and qiviut, it keeps you warm whether you are skating in the heart of downtown or snowboarding in the mountains. What’s more, the tuque doesn’t make you sweat if you are wearing it inside the office or subway. In October, two hundred of $200 a piece tuques were sold out within a few hours. Then, last month, at their pop-up shop, Frontier sold their last 20. The creators say they are going back into production to meet the growing demand.

Photo: cyberspaceandtime.com
Photo: cyberspaceandtime.com

Worst

I hear a lot of people still complaining about the results of the United States election. But as a journalist, I’m more concerned with another thing. It was very disappointing to see how mass media across the United States covered the election. ABC, CBSN, MSNBC and CNN were constantly referring to Clinton’s lead, and, as a result, Trump’s victory astonished them. Whether they relied on polls too much or were biased, the results show them in a bad light and signal that the integrity of our profession is in danger. I fully understand the complexity behind the coverage of the race but I think journalism shouldn’t be concerned with which of the candidates is better or worse. It is our responsibility to be impartial and to put our professionalism before our personal opinions.

– Helen Jacob, Contributing Writer –

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Best

Between the clowns, Brexit, and gorilla meme overkill, I don’t know if anyone’s forgoten that Leonardo Di Caprio FINALLY won an Oscar! And in a way, the Internet won. We could all finally breath…and then all the other stuff happened. Chin up though. If this is the best thing I can think of, 2017 can only get better. Here’s to realizing even more things!

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Safety Pin Movement

Worst

I know 2016 was just full of ugly but I think hate crimes top the list. How did we go backwards? Yes, the hike in hate crimes came post-election, “inspired” by certain individuals who shall not be named. But we’re better than that. People care about other people and, more than ever, we need to lift each other up.

– Hoon Ji, Managing Editor

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A close-up of the cover of Ninety-nine Stories of God by Joy Williams

Best

Joy Williams’s Ninety-Nine Stories of God was first published in 2013 as an e-book but received very little attention. But earlier this year, the ninety-nine often short, jarring, allusive, and never simple vignettes, concerned with interactions with the divine, were published by Tin House as a physical paper bound copy (You can hold ‘em!) to much critical praise. And I should add, to my embarrassingly audible moans and hiccups of gratitude in the middle of a crowded bookstore. I associate Williams’s voice with old images of a disaffected Sybil or Tiresias. She sees the contours of our actions that we miss as we are swept away in their momentum. Williams’s world is violent and full of vitriol, fools, false prophets, drunks, and the handicapped. Through them, we are told of the shapes of cruelty of our stupidity.

But she does not leave us there, helpless in the dark. Often, in the direst of her stories, songs of praise seem to be the most appropriate of responses. How she fills the most barren landscapes with a palpable need for loving is a glorious mystery. The book also features many canines.

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Flint, Michigan — photo by Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Worst

Flint water crisis is not yet resolved. In October alone, more than 170 incidents of terrorism occurred across the world. Guantanamo is still open. A parallel was made between the Black Lives Matter movement and the KKK by someone with a legitimate and relatively popular media platform. Black face is still a thing. An anti-semite misogynist has the eager ears of a would-be despot. Still can’t remember the last time an Asian brother or sister got a lead role. Swastikas are back. Twitter is news. Romney ate with Donald — Young Garlic Soup with Thyme and Sautéed Frog Legs. Leonard Cohen, the poet, is dead. Everything is suddenly handcrafted. Did I mention, that the Flint water crisis is still going on?

As always, the end feels nigh and somewhere along the way, tired and eyes glazed over with desperation, I stopped reading the news and found inside the apathy I fear in others. And that’s the greatest disappointment.

– Claire Ball, Editorial Contributor

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(L to R: Olivia Armstrong, Tegan Versolatto, Amanda Weldon, Claire Ball, Alyssa Ball, and Amanda Biffis). Photo courtesy of Sheridan College.

Best

It may sound cheesy, but in a lot of way 2016 was a big year for me. After graduating from Western in 2014, and taking a year to myself to work and travel in Europe for six weeks, I finally made the decision to continue my education and enroll in a post-graduate program in the fall of 2015. My experience at Sheridan was something I will never forget. Growing up in a fairly small city, my interest in the media was never completely understood or easy to relate to. It wasn’t until I began my education at Sheridan that I really met people who had specifically similar interests and passions as me. It was a year filled with blood, sweat, and tears to say the least. I worked harder in those eight months than I did during my four years at Western. But I loved it.

I am proud to say that my best moment this year was graduating from the Journalism New Media program at Sheridan College, and finally beginning to figure out what I really want. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

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Brock Turner leaves the jail in San Jose, California. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters

Worst

No one is saddened by the fact that 2016 is over. This year was pretty awful. Aside from getting my wisdom teeth out, Donald Trump becoming president, the death of Harambe, Rob Kardashian naming his child “Dream,” and Justin Bieber deleting his Instagram, there were so many legitimately terrible things that happened in the world this year.

On a serious note, one of the things that genuinely infuriated and saddened me the most was the Brock Turner case and trial. As a woman who went to university, and understands the importance of campus safety, I was appalled by the lack of remorse Turner seemed to feel, and how the media, and the judge continued to highlight Turner’s credentials as an Ivy league athlete. As if that should somehow excuse or allow leniency for his actions.

In addition to the horrendous lenient sentence from the judge, Turner went on to blame alcohol and college peer pressure as the pivotal moment that ruined his life, instead of the moment he decided to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

The best part: he was released after only serving half of his 6-month sentence.

– Liat Neuman, Fashion Contributor – 

gettyimages

Best

NYFW 2016 was all about taking steps forward for positive body image. More plus size models walked down the catwalk, such as Sabina Karlsson, Alessandra Garcia-Lorido, Marquita Pring and Ashley Graham, who also introduced her new lingerie collection for the Canadian label, Addition Elle. Christian Siriano, Smart Glamour, and Tracy Reese were among the designers who increased their size range to offer their collections to plus size women. I think that it’s about time that the fashion industry, which has a lot of power and impact on our society, celebrated feminine beauty in all body types. I’m so excited about the industry’s diverse cast of models and non-models who will showcase its collections.

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Worst

As much as I love Vetements streetwear-inspired collection designed by Demna and Guram Gvasalia, I can’t understand the obsession with the DHL yellow shirt. The young Paris-based label showcased it at the opening look for its spring 2016 show, and from that point on, the T shirt became a major hit and sold out within a few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, the approach of bringing anti-fashion back to fashion is welcome and refreshing, but I don’t understand why people, and especially bloggers, stylists, and models, are willing to spend about $330 for a simple T-shirt in a flashy bright color, with a giant logo promoting a delivery company. Maybe I missed something but I prefer to get paid than to pay to become a walking commercial. Is it worth the price tag? Your call.