Black and Viscous: Rick Owens’ Spring 2014 Paris Fashion Show

Warning: This post is about fashion, my not so secret love… but it’s also about diversity, so read on!

Rick Owens Spring 2014 Collection
at Paris Fashion Week

The fashionistas are buzzing (and I’m sure the snooty ones are rolling their eyes) after the display of racial and body diversity in Rick Owen’s Spring 2014 Paris fashion show.

As much as the inner goth in me loves Rick Owen’s clothes (and his whole lifestyle/brand), something about these images doesn’t feel revolutionary… perhaps it has to do with the way these still images ultimately represent and archive the performance.

Rick Owens Spring 2014 Collection
at Paris Fashion Week

Apparently, be “Viscous” was Owens’ creative direction to the models/dancers. Although the model’s “viscous” mugs are a refreshing break from the usual lifeless look most runway models have,  are these women really supposed to be “warriors”?

Owens hired a mother-daughter step choreography team who orchestrated the whole performance with 40 dancers and now the fashion designer is being heralded for “bringing step to the international fashion stage!” Wow. Really? So yet another celebrity brings black popular dance to the masses… ahem, Miley. Warriors or not, the step teams I’ve seen rely on their moves and body language as show of strength/force and don’t have to resort to contorting their faces as if possessed.

Rick Owens Spring 2014 Collection
at Paris Fashion Week

What I can appreciate is 40 much larger than size 0 models with muscles and plump flesh stomping down the catwalk. What a sight that must’ve been… Owens not only responded to the recent debate over fashion’s lack of diversity (spearheaded by Bethann Hardison) but as his models sported unkempt hair and haute couture doo rags, he also made a statement against high fashion’s role in shaping gender and standard representations of femininity.

OK, so bravo Rick Owens but next time you have an almost all-black fleet of models in your fashion show, do they have to play up to the “angry black woman” stereotype with clenched fists? Strong can still be sexy, just take a clue from women like Grace Jones, Serena Williams, Queen Latifah, Jill Scott… the list is long.

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