1) TIFFANY & CO
Winds of change were felt at American jewellery giant Tiffany & Co this year, thanks to exciting new leadership. Its design director Francesca Amfitheatrof (right) - the first female to take on the role in its 177-year history - debuted her first collection for the brand.
Called Tiffany T, the line consists of jewellery with different interpretations of a sharply elegant "T" motif. Wonderfully minimalist and modern, it is a fresh new chapter for Tiffany.
Kudos to the brand for its savvy in hiring such an accomplished woman to be the new face of Tiffany. Beautiful, creative and eloquent, Amfitheatrof in a way is the ultimate representation of a Tiffany & Co customer.
One of the hit accessories of this year has to be the Dior tribal earring. The simple stud earring, which retails for $620 onwards, features one smaller ball in the front of the lobe and one larger ball behind it.
It has been worn by many fashion people, from bloggers and musicians to actresses. The genius of the earring is that it is simple, but so striking. The design takes the almost sleepy stud earring into edgy territory by emphasising the back instead of the front. But the subversiveness is tempered by the ladylike vibe.
It has been rendered in a slew of materials, from white pearl to colourful resin. One earring can be worn on its own or as part of a matching pair. These elements make it a versatile piece and perfect for jazzing up a look.
3) MANSUR GAVRIEL
Less is more for New York-based bag label Mansur Gavriel's designers, Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel. The cult brand's sleek bags, free of bells and whistles, have been a hit in the fashion world.
Its black bucket bag with red contrast lining (right) costs about US$620 (S$813) compared with the more than US$2,000 most designer bags go for, and it has become a chic new go-to bag.
Its scarcity amps up its hype as well. The bag is rarely in stock as it is almost always sold out. The brand is available at multi-label e-stores such as Net-A-Porter and La Prendo.
4) MIHARA YASUHIRO
There are brands out there with big-name creative directors who make a splash with trendy hit products. However, designer Mihara Yasuhiro's (above) eponymous label is not one of them.
The quiet, intellectual Japanese designer celebrated 20 years in the business this year, but it is not surprising that most people have not heard of him. Starting out as a footwear designer, he has had a long-term collaboration with Puma since 2000 but stays mostly under the radar.
More people should look out for his clothes though, which have been appearing on international runways since 2004 and stocked at Club21 since 2009. They are full of thoughtful details, such as a billowing back or colour-blocked section, which imbue his simple-looking clothes with a luxe touch.
Coach entered a new era this year, with the first collection from new creative director Stuart Vevers (right). In addition to creating new bags for the "cool girl", Vevers debuted a full range of clothing.
Certain looks were popular - such as the Apollo sweater - and they broadened Coach's ready-to-wear reach, from just shoes and outerwear previously.
While it remains to be seen how successful Coach's clothes are, it is clear the brand is actively moving away from its logo-heavy CC days towards a more luxurious, high-end image. The appointment of Vevers, who has worked for designer brands Mulberry and Loewe, is proof of that.
It will be a tricky, but interesting, journey for the brand as it works to create a new image without alienating its existing clientele.
Skincare brand Tatcha, whose products are based on natural ingredients used by geishas, is quietly making a name for itself in the beauty world.
Its famous blotting papers have made their way into the make-up pouches of fashion insiders.
Based on an ancient manuscript extolling the beauty and healing properties of ingredients such as camellia oil, rice bran and indigo, Tatcha products - brought to life by American founder Vicky Tsai - are a good alternative for those concerned about harsh chemicals.
The brand ships globally from its online store.
Its interesting backstory adds to its allure.
7) ERA ORA
Local scarf brand Era Ora melds founder Euny Lim's desire to start a fashion business with her long-held interest in art. The two-year-old brand specialises in scarves and pocket squares with colourful designs of surrealistic paintings and maps.
The premise is a simple one when it comes to Era Ora - wearable art - but a successful one too. Scarves are versatile - size is not an issue - and buyers can arrange them in whatever way they like.
In addition to being stocked online and at multi-label shops, the brand has made headway at trade shows such as Premiere Classe in Paris, which it appeared in for the first time this year.
8) LYNN BAN JEWELRY
The jeweller of choice for music royalty - in particular pop princesses Rihanna, Beyonce and Katy Perry - is New York-based Singaporean designer Lynn Ban (right).
Her three-year-old label has been on an upward trajectory since its inception and has become known for its cool, sculptural fine jewellery.
The designs, which use materials such as black rhodium and diamonds, have become a hit thanks to their slightly edgy inspirations such as a razor blade, armour or an open gash.
Rihanna wore the jewellery both on tour and off-duty. Singer Lorde is also a fan.
This article was first published on Dec 19, 2014. Get a copy of Urban, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.