Packed as it was with cats, retouching, and a progressively sad-looking Lady Gaga, the year in fashion editorials has flown by. And what a year it's been. Rounding up the highlights — and the lowlights — is no easy task. But we combed back through all of this year's bests and worsts to find the very bestest and the very worstest, including Kates and Karlies, K. Stew and R-Patz, dolphins and goats, crowns, balloons, babies, pineapples, and a sprinkling of nipples. Oh, and let's not forget Vogue Italia's unforgettable "Haute Mess" editorial, above, the year's single most memorable fashion magazine spread.
Also, because it's the holidays, there's a selection of 2012's most noteworthy campaigns at the end of the gallery; once you've realized you're done reliving the most superb superlatives, you've got a few more shots to enjoy. Or, more likely, enjoy laughing at.
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January's "Best Take on Hollywood Squares" —
"Fashion squares, pun intended."
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November's "Most Likely to be Scouted by Fox News" —
"Sure, it looks a little like this jaunty model is having a giggle at the Romney campaign's expense. (We've all been there.) Still though, blonde hair and a jarring pantsuit — she'd be a solid candidate in the big Fox binder of potential new (model) anchorwomen."
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March's "Sassiest Dolphin" —
"Flipper, you are still in the running to become America's Next Top Aquatic Mammal Model."
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September's "Deepest in Thought" —
"We'll leave it up to you to decide what the Brant boys are mulling over, because the possibilities are just about endless. Endlessly shallow, that is." (Of course, this is also exactly what the dynamic duo looked like just before they got their big scolding for those election night tweets.)
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August's "Best Lips" —
"The challenge: how to emit a 'don't fuck with me or I'll cut you' vibe while wearing a fluffy pink bunny suit. And the solution: black eyeliner. Around the lips."
"There's a special place in hell reserved for people who work out gracefully on the beach while the rest of us swelter and burn under inadequate sun loungers. But until then, Gisele looks great."
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July's "Most Inappropriate Seaside Behavior, Were It Not for Gisele's Antics in the Previous Slide" —
"It must be asked, vulgar as it may be — why oh why is Rianne ten Haken birthing a watermelon?" (And props to our commenters for noting the old 'I'm wearing underwear under my swimsuit so I can return it for a full refund' trick too.)
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June's "Worst Learned Behavior" —
"Whispers this model to the newborns, 'It's never too early to start losing your baby fat.'"
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October's "Biggest Waste of a Fancy Hotel Room" —
"Also: most obvious zinger, because there's a man in Kristen Stewart's bed who isn't Edward Cullen. Even so, she looks grumpy — and wholly unappreciative of the fine window drapes."
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August's "Still Using That McQueen Dress" —
"At this point magazines are just phoning it in. Shoot it in the desert, why not? It's featured in just about every other possible editorial trope these past few months. We're still not tired of it, to be fair ... but we're close."
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February's "Best Bieber" —
"That would be Julius Bieber."
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March's "Fishiest" —
"Fishiest two-fold, even: There's that dubious tuna sub, and then a dragged-out model's dubious fishy realness. RuPaul would say 'shante' to this look — but primarily out of fear."
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January's "Best Details" —
Dazed & Confused
"Look closely and you'll see many of Dazed's favorite accessories: ruffs! harnesses! socks poking out of sandals!"
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Real Housewife Cameo in
Vogue Magazine" —
"This bears repeating: a Real Housewife cameo in a Vogue magazine photo shoot. And said Housewifelooks great. NeNe Leakes everyone, kicking Kim Zolciak's ass and taking fashion editors' names. Now then, how about a Lisa Vanderpump cover? Anybody?"
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February's "Best Hair" —
"Who would have thought it possible that vintage Versace (mixed with pieces from the label's H&M collaboration) would be the less colorful element of this shoot?"
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August's "Most Likely to be Used as a 'Before' Photo at an Unaccredited Rehab Clinic —
"The accompanying 'after' photo shows this model lying peacefully next to Robert Pattinson in a field full of daisies. They're holding hands."
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November's "Window Into the Darkest Soul" —
"Get it together, R-Patz, or just play the Six Feet Under finale on repeat until you're all cried out." (Coincidentally, this would be the 'before' photo corresponding to the previous slide.)
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February's "Obligatory Cute White Kitten" —
"Cats this fluffy are allowed to shed haughtily — even on one's beaded Chanel." (Choupette later had this kitty killed. RIP.)
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September's "Least Likely to Be Actually Riding the Rails" —
"Nothing says 'I'm hitching a ride hobo-style on a freight train, LOL' like a Marc Jacobs hat that costs more than a first class plane ticket."
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October's "Most Likely to be Barred From a Small Southern Town's Senior Prom" —
"If the same-sex coupling wasn't bad enough already, the bejewelled face masks screams 'I'm a subversive student here to spike the fruit punch.'"
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March's "Best Blur" —
"And Tilda Swinton still looks beautiful."
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September's "Creepiest" —
"They could be string virtuosos, but we'd still just want to swat them. Sorry." (To note, they were just as creepy in real life as they were on the page.)
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March's "Most Elaborate Bedding" —
"Daphne's already put in an order for this oh-so-Guinness shroud. And as for a little light bedtime reading, well, that's all sorted, too."
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April's "Best P-P-P-
Joker Face" —
"I promise this, promise this. Check my hand because I'm marvelous."
"Why bother buying clothes when you could just roll around on the floor of an aquarium?" (Not-a-true-story: brave model Emily Baker smelled of old sushi for four days post-shoot.)"
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August's "Best Advertisement for Grindr" —
"Sure, the underwear looks good, too ... but, oh, sorry, excuse me just a second while I go check something on my cellphone." (Grindr users who we know, but only tenuously, obviously, now report the editorial sent many of the app's horned-up users into a shame spiral/back to the gym, where they were forced to cruise fellow weightlifters in person. Ugh.)
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June's "Best Homage to That Scene From
Mannequin Where Kim Cattral Briefly Plays a Cycling Mannequin" —
"It's just missing a touch more of Hollywood Montrose's signature sass, really. And by sass, we mean some sequins. And by some, we mean a shitload."
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October's "Worst Detail Fail" —
"Let's get this month's rant regarding fashion magazine's ever-offensive appropriation of 'hobo-chic' out of the way nice and early. Deep breath. German Vogue, this shoot is all wrong. Wrong in its inception, wrong in its development (editors signing the concept off, we mean you), and wrong in its realization: Any true (designer) bag lady would be collecting crushed cans, not pristine soda six-packs some poor assistant had to wheel from the mini mart four blocks cross-town."
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November's "Most Subtle Upton" —
"Granted, the remainder of Kate's editorial is less so."
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July's "Best/Worst Pun" —
"Take Karlie Kloss out into the desert, strip her down, and then cover her back up in sandy clay ... of course the first phrase that comes to mind is 'true grit,' har har. The second phrase to come to mind, as is often the case with fashion magazines, is 'shameless objectification of the female form,' but that's a little less snappy for a caption."
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November's "Best House Elf" —
Dazed & Confused
"Will J. K. Rowling ever stop being culturally relevant?" (Just don't let Iris keep any of the samples post-shoot. The clothes will set her free.)
"It's beyond ridiculous that Jessie J got more screen time in the closing ceremony than Naomi. And in this gorgeous dress, no less. Mark our words, phones will have been thrown."
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May's "Best Conspiracy" —
"This photo captures the exact moment the plan for Kate Upton's 'Cat Daddy' video was hatched." (Later photos capture the exact moment Terry 'accidentally' trips over Kate's sun lounger and lands on her cleavage, just so.)
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October's "Most Aggressive" —
"Vogue China takes over Tibet. Nice leggings, though."
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January's "Worst Background" —
"Why are planes a thing now, hmm? They're not fun, fashion people! They're the Kim Kardashian of inanimate objects: overpaid, annoying, make you want to pass out until it just stops. The list goes on."
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May's "Most Disappointed" —
"What do you mean the My Little Pony cosplay festival is next weekend?"
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February's "Best Audition for the Female Lead in
"With the fourth Transformers movie ("Trans4mers," surely?) rumored to feature an all-new cast, Daria Werbowy lets Michael Bay know she's all set to replace Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as his new leading ladymodel — why, she's friends with Bumblebee already. The ankle socks will have to go though, as will the majority of her outfit, because it's a Michael Bay movie and, thus, women have no need for clothing."
"This model knows the L train is the safest place to hide from Anna Dello Russo if you don't intend to return her veil."
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June's "Best Everything" —
"Alexander Skarsgard, in a copse of ever-romantic cherry blossom trees, gently carrying a little baby lamb. Let the swooning commence."
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October's "All Around Worst" —
"Sophia Petrillo would have none of this shit."
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Honorable Mention: Most Likely to Chase Waterfalls —
"How this escaped our consideration back in August, we don't know, and we can only apologize for the omission. No-one should have been denied a change to ogle these Speedos. Ryan also wrote Karlie a thank-you note after their shoot together and told her how pretty she looked in blue."
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Most Overdue Catering — Fall 2012 Miu Miu
"It's tea time, clearly, and Chloë wants sandwiches." (With the crusts cut off all properlike, obviously.)
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Worst Reason to Avoid Canapes This Holiday Party Season — Spring 2012 Calvin Klein Jeans
"Better still, stop eating altogether and maybe, just maybe (genetics be damned!) your stomach will eventually look like this. Well, it won't, but this kind of thinspiration is what unhealthy teenage dreams are made of."
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Worst "What If?" — Spring 2012 Philipp Plein
"What if Plein had only stayed friends with Lindsay Lohan long enough for her to star in this campaign? Why, this is very the plot of a (sexy) choose-your-own-adventure novel. Now turn to page 47 if you want Ed and Lilo's baby to be the Antichrist."
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Most in Need of Pool Floaties — Spring 2012 Chanel
Most in Need of Aprons — Spring 2012 Louis Vuitton
"Those sundaes are dripping!"
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Best Softcore — Fall 2012 Versace Jeans
"Why, it's a veritable booty-tooch-off."
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Saddest Farewell — Spring 2012 D&G
"If you're going to have to shutter your diffusion label, let it go out in a blaze of glory like this campaign featuring a fascinating jeans/silk pajamas hybrid. D&G, we'll cherish the memories even if we'll never wear the clothes."
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Best Casting — Fall 2012 Lanvin
"Alber wanted to re-create fall 2011's epic 'I Know You Want Me' behind-the-scenes campaign shoot video, but when he asked this nice lady to bust a move to 'Hotel Room Service,' she said no."
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Swooniest — Fall 2012 Michael Kors
"That's not a script Simon Nessman's reading; it's a collection of romantic haikus I sent him this morning. This is my favorite: I love you Simon/ Your turtleneck makes my loins/ Ache. Ache. Ache. Ache. Ache." (Okay, I cheated a little bit on the last line, but I think the sentiment wins out.)
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Worst Realization of Arguably Good Intentions — Spring 2012 Donna Karan
"Karan's spring 2012 campaign proved controversial for its inclusion of sad-looking Haitians as extras, but really, it could have been a lot worse."
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Best Florals — Spring 2012 Stella McCartney
"Flower power for the new era."
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Best Homage to Those Old "Viva Glam" Campaigns — Fall 2012 Kenzo
"Kenzo strikes the right balance between referential and reverential: You better work."
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Most Anticlimactic Game of Hide and Seek — Fall 2012 Mulberry
"Says Lindsay: 'If I'm going to count all the way to 200, y'all could try a little harder.'"
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Most Constipated — Spring 2012 Versace
"Talk about unfortunate timing."
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(Nearly) Best Use of Plastic Flamingoes — Fall 2012 Celine
"If old people in South Florida subscribe to fashion magazines, they'll be passing this ad around and bragging about how their lawn ornaments inspired the 'See-lyne pictures.' In fact, some will even send the page, cut out all neatly like a coupon, to their city-slicker grandkids along with the holiday greetings card (and $20) as a reminder to come home and see where the bigwigs get their trends from."