Image is a slippery creature, and one month's style sensation is the next month's tasteless trend. For those keeping score, we offer the 2008 Image Index, a sliding scale of the people, places, ideas and trends that moved up -- and down -- the pop culture barometer this year.



That last stint in rehab in March 2007 really must have stuck. Not only is Jacobs in top physical shape (see the January issue of Harper's Bazaar, where a graffitied Jacobs poses nude with a Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag), but his multi-culti mash-up collections for Spring '09 were also among the season's best. And those runway shows, which used to start as much as two hours late, have been right on time. At last, he's earned his title as the most influential American fashion designer.


Smart, psychologically compelling plots that revolve around pencil skirts, double martinis and afternoon trysts made us wish for a bigger flat screen. The addictive show also elevated the aesthetics of workplace attire to include sweater sets for women and ties for guys. Meet you at the water cooler to discuss last night's episode?


Not since Burt Reynolds popularized thick upper-lip fringe has the mustache been so hot, thanks to Brad Pitt's latest look. But really, he's no facial hair visionary. Shia LaBeouf showed some fuzz in "Eagle Eye" earlier this year, and a coterie of 'stache-ophiles meet downtown monthly for Mustache Mondays.


How refreshing to see a TV pundit -- and Rhodes scholar -- who's loyal to her signature style. Rachel Maddow, 35, waxes poetic about politics and takes on the GOP on her daily eponymous show on MSNBC. This month she appears in Vogue, and the self-described butch lesbian didn't succumb to a glitzy glam makeover; she's wearing a Jil Sander suit and black Converse high-tops.


East Side guys in skinny jeans. Shrunken blazers with suspenders on gals. Gender-bending fashion was an equal-opportunity trend, and Fall Out Boy pop star Pete Wentz -- who reportedly prefers DKNY women's denim -- even launched a unisex line in April. Hey, we're all for any fad that opens up new closets.


At the beginning of the year she was a mess, having just lost custody of her sons and been hospitalized for mental-health issues. But all that melted away, thanks to a few well-chosen TV appearances, an MTV documentary, her new hit album "Circus" and a European comeback tour. Pop music's favorite fashion train wreck is blond again, and looking better than she has in years, thanks in part to über-stylist Marjan Malakpour, who has been dressing her onstage and in photo shoots. We're even digging Brit's new ringmaster persona.


This year the chemical bromance "Pineapple Express" (named for a potent strain of herb) took in $89 million at the multiplex, we got hooked on Showtime's "Weeds" and its dope-dealing soccer mom, and Cheech and Chong reunited for a sold-out reunion tour. When Jonathan Adler is dealing $68 pot-leaf motif Hashish candles and the cast of the 2009 weed-themed flick ("Leaves of Grass") includes Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss and Edward Norton, you know the stoner's stock is high.


There were so many '90s supermodels gracing the pages of fashion magazines this fall, you'd suspect a George Michael and RuPaul comeback tour was in the works. Linda Evangelista wore Prada's lace head to toe, Naomi Campbell looked as lithe as ever in the YSL ads, Christy Turlington gave her yoga togs a rest and posed for Escada, and Claudia Schiffer was the season's most ubiquitous face as the main mannequin for Chanel and Ferragamo. All are well into their late 30s and early 40s, and in an industry where 24 is over the hill, it's refreshing to see that getting older is actually in fashion.