RICK OWENS STEPS UP TO THE PLATE IN PARIS
by Jeremy Danté
PARIS – full figured, grit faced and stomping, the rick owens show in paris today sent shockwaves through the fashion industry as a bold statement if any. beyond any form of trend, vision or conceptual approach, this show was and is what fashion represents. in this show, the clothes became part of the show as one with the magnificent models who brought tears to my eyes. replacing the expected model cast, women equipped with aggression bum rushed the runways of paris fashion week in what will forever be the most memorable show of the summer/spring 2014 show season. titled, “vicious” by owens himself, the collection has been hailed as an ode to femininity and alters the perception what women represent through beauty. working for five months with washington divas, soul steppers, momentum and zetas stepping teams- rick killed show season with this completely unexpected move that celebrates black beauty. remaining true to his own aesthetic in tone and cut, the collection still rings true of the original owens taste level but resonates on a higher level of universality of his clothes for women of all sizes. powerfully produced, the show aligns perfectly with the campaign lead by supermodels, bethann hardison, naomi campbell and iman. the three iconic models of color have drawn their attention to speaking out with a call to action to fashion councils in all of the fashion capitals, shedding light on the issue that models of color are under represented.
with fashion being an image driven industry, many designers have used creative direction as the scape goat for what is, essentially, a racist act. by not including models of color, creatives often cite that they are not looking for models of color this season; as though diversity is a passing trend. the show, though powerful, brings attention to the same issue that has and continues to be a pressing topic in this space. while segregation is not the key nor answer, the idea of fashion is not black nor white; it has no face, no identity, and no character until designers breath that into their work with content. what rick owens has done is a powerful motion to break away from how high fashion categorizes beauty; but will this major move incite change? is it just a one shot in the dark, leading us to another season that will follow soon after with tall lanky, color-less models returning to the runways? rick owens is a design house that showcases models of color to create a greater feel of diversity, how many other designers in paris will follow suit after this show? beyond casting models of color on the runways, will models of color then be seen much more in campaigns? campaigns and cosmetic contracts are the main money makers of the industry, and though a fashion show is powerful- that’s one element that could be a dead end, if no other contracts or instruments of visibility are secured thereafter. the steppers participation in paris was completely moving, and a true level of showmanship was represented this season, in this show. a completely imaginative concept to produce, and an overwhelming source of inspiration. i believe fashion is the process in which beauty, through anatomy and design, is made timeless. that is what was done here today, in paris, by way of rick owens. with a show this powerful, it goes to show that fashion, as an industry, might be too fearful of the power that is held in the beauty of individuals of color. this beauty extends far beyond clothes and becomes far too distracting for audiences to center their focus. full of flavor, enriched by heritage that has been misrepresented, there is a larger sense of content, of story lines, in representing beauty with those of color. the surface was merely scratched with this show and can hopefully give way to something much more powerful than one show, during one season, in one city in the world. a standing ovation to the house of rick owens for representing an often unseen or overlooked form of black femininity this season and far beyond the confines of america.