Rick Owens took the polite conversation on model diversity and rebel-at-heart that he is, went right ahead and body slammed it with his presentation for Paris Fashion Week. Featuring average-sized and mostly black women, Owens’ presentation was more like a theatrical production, with models wearing his Spring 2014 designs as they performed a step routine.
Though most of the establishment editors immediately cheered his audacity and vision, the immediate response on Twitter not surprisingly was more mixed. After all, given the fashion industry’s in-your-face issues with diversity, it makes sense that the folks never allowed past the tightly-guarded gates might have a different perspective than those sitting safely inside.
Some saw the step routine as more of the same appropriation, others were put off by the talent level of the performance itself. But then, too, it made a difference that the designer was Rick Owens. White male or not, his credentials as an open-minded and progressive creative with legit punk rock credentials–at least within the fashion community–are well known and all told it seemed even among the critics there was an appreciation for his willingness to go boldly forward.
Here is some of the feedback we received from our followers on Twitter including our very own Samia Grand Pierre:
“If you are going to step, I want you to STEP! I don’t know, I didn’t live for it. On the flip side that’s never been done before, so major kudos to Rick Owens!” @nysocialbee
“I thought it was a dope move. I believe in step and I want people to be exposed/ increased.” @pamelacouncil
“HE USED STEPPERS INSTEAD OF MODELS? WHAT? I love that he did something different. But why the appropriation of Black traditions?” @yana_handbags
“RICK OWENS GAVE THE MOST REFRESHING SHOW I’VE EVER SEEN DURING FASHION WEEK WITH THE STEPPERS.” @leather_weather
“It’s cool to make the steppers The Show itself as opposed to a side attraction #RickOwens another reason why he rocks,” @samiagrand
As for the clothes themselves, Owens is nobody’s fool. Probably he knew the chatter over the step routine and the women’s body types would dominate the conversation, and for a runway presentation in current times that really is half the battle. When the looks hit the stores, they will automatically feel iconic because they will be tied to a very bold presentation that broke a lot of molds.