2014 highlights: Stacey's 8 picks

1 PRABAL GURUNG

It was a year of firsts for Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung (right).

He made his first foray into make-up through a collaboration with M.A.C cosmetics, debuted his footwear collection and, for the first time, revisited the country of his birth - Singapore.

"Strangely, I feel completely at ease here. I travel a lot and there are places that I don't feel comfortable in even if I've been there several times," said Gurung in May. He was in town for the Audi Fashion Festival.

The golden boy of fashion has dressed the likes of United States First Lady Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton and actresses Cate Blanchett and Zoe Saldana in his signature modern glam style.

Priced between US$695 (S$870) and US$1,165, his new shoe collection comprises six styles and will be available next year.

Straps and little spike details can be found in the collection, which was inspired by his trekking trips in Nepal.

2 KIYONE+LIM

Nail art can end up in the realm of tacky pretty easily, but Japanese nail salon Kiyone+Lim, which opened at Orchard Central in February, champions designs with clean lines and subtle patterns.

The best part? One of its nail technicians, Ms Natsumi Iwamuro, can remove a customer's old gel polish, do a new manicure and draw an intricate Pegasus constellation design in under 90 minutes.

3 THOMAS TAIT

This year marked a turning point in the career of Canadian designer Thomas Tait (right).

The London-based designer beat contemporaries, such as Simone Rocha, Shayne Oliver, Tim Coppens and Simon Porte Jacquemus, to become the first to be awarded the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize.

He was given 300,000 euros (S$490,300) to fund his eponymous label, which he started in 2010, and a year of mentorship with LVMH designers and executives.

More significantly, the win represents a nod from some of fashion's greats - Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, Raf Simons and Phoebe Philo - who were on the judging panel.

A few weeks before the win was announced, the local fashion scene was treated to a glimpse of his talent at the Audi Fashion Festival in May, where he showcased his fall/winter 2014 collection of futuristic designs and clashing colours.

4 SOPHIA WEBSTER

In the age of minimalism, designer Sophia Webster has disregarded the "less is more" approach and put a whole lot of quirky into her colourful shoe collections.

The 29-year-old produced a well reviewed spring/summer 2015 collection - filled with electric prints, sandals with floral motifs and shocking bondage boots - and made store appearances in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Leading up to her visit to the On Pedder store at Scotts Square, many of her shoes were apparently sold out before the autograph session.

Word is that the British designer plans on opening her first boutique next year.

5 MEN ON THE MOVE

When the luxury French fashion house Hermes throws a party, it goes all out.

In May, it unveiled its spring/summer 2014 men's collection at the Old Kallang Airport, which saw 900 guests exploring the brand's clothes, shoes and accessories through 14 installations, performances and displays. Created in collaboration with Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich and French digital artist Miguel Chevalier, these revolved around the notion of travel - a nod to the brand's roots in saddle-making and its spirit of travel.

Among the Men On The Move installations was a moving airport conveyer belt with bags, shoes and male models sitting on crates. Two twin male models mimicked each other in facing rooms. Clothes and aeroplane propellers were suspended from the ceiling.

It was an interactive and fresh perspective on fashion.

6 NET-A-SPORTER

The relationship between fashion and sport reached new heights this year.

Trainers were embellished at Dior and Chanel. Greek designer Mary Katrantzou added her signature prints to a collection with Adidas, while Nike launched a collection with Brazilian fashion designer Pedro Lourenco.

Among the best combinations was Net-A-Sporter, the sportswear line of luxury e-tailer Net-A-Porter.

The online fashion site dedicated a space for sportswear in July with over 37 brands offered across 10 sports disciplines and a category called Apres Sport, for after-sports outfits.

Aside from Net-A-Sporter, look out for sportswear lines from designer Tory Burch and a collaboration collection by Beyonce and Topshop next year.

7 HYPERGRAND

There are only a handful of Singapore watch labels, but one of them, HyperGrand, has been making huge waves overseas this year. Only 5 per cent of its sales are from Singapore.

Its watches have minimalist faces - there are no numerals - and graphic art-printed nylon straps. Straps are easily interchangeable, which is probably one of the reasons for the brand's popularity.

This year, it added a more premium range, featuring watches with cases made of stainless steel instead of metal alloy. Prices are affordable, ranging from $129 to $369.

Founded by Mr Leroy Zhong last year, HyperGrand recently added major British retailers Selfridges and Topshop to its stockist list. It will be carried in these two stores by February. Aside from Britain, HyperGrand is also stocked in Australia and France.

GlamGlow's Supermud is as close as it gets to a miracle worker.

Have a pimple that is developing? This deep cleansing mask, which can be used as a spot treatment, should work its magic and leave the spot less painful within minutes. Supermud can also treat in-grown hair, razor bumps, and black and white heads.

Launched in Singapore at Escentials and Sephora this year, the brand is founded by the husband and wife duo of Shannon and Glenn Dellimore.

Other products from the brand - Youthmud (exfoliation), Powermud (deep cleansing), Thirstymud (hydrating) and Brightmud (eye mask) - have won numerous magazine beauty awards.

The brand expects to hit US$169 million (S$211 million) in retail sales this year.

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.