The times they are a changin’. We’ve lost Breaking Bad, Hannah Montana is now a twerking stoner who seems to reject being fully clothed at all times, hedgehogs are the new cats, and the days of waif-like beauties ruling the runways are over. Goodbye, Kate. See you later, Cara. Until next time, Coco.
Well, maybe those days are actually only over at visionary label Rick Owens. For his Paris Fashion Week show, Rick declined to use those ladies and their beautiful peers and opted for college step dancers. Obviously. These ladies literally stomped down the runway with athletic, powerful frames. In the words of Her Fierceness, Tyra Banks, these girls are “fiercely real.” No one was going to fit into the sample size zero typical of most shows.
Not only were the dancers larger than your average model, they were also almost all African American. Designers have been getting a lot of criticism for the sea of white women they send down the runway every season, resulting in the occasional token African American or Asian girls. But Owens FINALLY gave us a show that displays real diversity. The size and race of his models subvert two huge industry norms, proving yet again that he is truly one of the edgiest, most original designers out there today. He proved there is room for women of all sizes in the fashion industry and that there are changes that need to be made in order to progress.
When I first saw the photos I was more shocked by those faces than their weight. These girls were making some seriously scary faces; think Jack Nicholson chopping the door down in The Shining type of rage. Turns out that’s the point, in step dancing exaggerated facial expressions are used to intimidate the competition. Mission accomplished.
The audience loved all eleven minutes of the high energy “Vicious” performance which featured jarring movements and a focus on footwork. The dance was so badass that Anna Wintour’s usual icy demeanor was broken and she suddenly felt compelled to dance, getting low in the front row. Just kidding. That would be too amazing, but if any show were to do it it would be this one. People actually did start to cheer on the dancers.
I loved this show because it’s everything a runway show should be: fun, original, thought-provoking, and entertaining. The unconventionality rubbed some people the wrong way, but in the words of Rick Owens himself, “if they’re mad, they just don’t get it.”