Catching Rick Owens’ spring 2014 “Vicious” collection online Thursday night, I was struck by a strangely enlightening feeling when I watched. Here I was, ensconced in my apartment in Minneapolis, which is geographically nowhere near Paris, and this 11-minute distraction from studying human DNA gave me an entirely mind-blowing sense of an evolution under foot.
The runway show at the indoor sports arena in Bercy, which is in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, was ruthless in the way it spurned fashion industry conventions. Here were young women from sororities in colleges all over the United States, step-dancing down staircases and the runway to thudding music, their grit faces on (a signature scowl worn by steppers in order to intimidate competition), sweat and saliva flying in the general direction of seated editors. These women had curves. They were a far cry from the Kate Moss template that has dominated fashion for decades.
Yet the fashion on display was in step with their forceful, exacting moves: non-constricting, shortened and often sleeveless leather gladiatorial tunics over shorts, and other clothes that were so robustly Rick Owens, with the way the pieces draped and stole over the women’s bodies. The designer launched his line on a gritty side street off Hollywood Boulevard before relocating to Paris in 2003, calls step dancing a “brutalist” form of expression, an aesthetic he also taps for his clothes and furniture.
These models grunted, kicked, clapped, and marched in drill-like formations down the runway. I knew I was watching something that will be talked about and referenced for years to come in the fashion world: the time Rick Owens sent a broader picture of womanhood and a new creation of beauty down the runway during Paris Fashion Week.
Rick Owens is only the latest rebel in a line of mavericks going back decades, who’ve changed the clothes, the sets, the lights, the music, the makeup. Now this native from Bakersfield, CA, has forced us all to take a leap forward in thinking of who can model. For some, I guess, being a catalyst for the future is in their very DNA.
Watch the presentation and let us know what you think: