Currently reading : A review of Rick Owens SS14 show
One of the biggest problems with fashion is how the very essence of what is relatable about it is diminished with a veil of exclusivity, consumerism and elitism. What is so frustrating about these issues is that everyone wears clothes and consciously or unconsciously everyone has to make a decision about fashion on a regular basis. The process of dressing is probably the most creative things that most individuals go through in our world on a daily basis. Colours, textures, silhouette or clothing with strong references all come into contact in the western world and the choice of creating a personal identity through clothing is endless. Even the very people who dismiss fashion still make a conscience choice of how they want to be approached and judged by rejecting it. The capitalistic power that destroys fashions credentials into the designer handbag or perfume-consuming components throw it right down to the bottom of the hierarchy of the arts. How often is fashion taken seriously for its intellectual properties outside of the fashion industry?
This introduction may seem a little extended but it seems necessary to approach in regards to Rick Owen’s Spring Summer 14 collection presented yesterday in Paris. Most prominently the show tackled the endless problems of the modeling industry by using real people, being used for their talent and lifestyle rather that the mathematic dimensions of their facial structure and body. This immediately makes what Owens has created more accessible and human. The designer created a new woman who was fierce and in control. (and not just fierce in ‘fashion’ kind of way) Not only were the people chosen unusual because of these issues but their behaviour was completely unexpected on the podium of the catwalk. Select from an American group of women performing the exceptional stepping, Owens recently cited it as an American art and thinks of it as a kind of “brutalist’”. Dance has been used as a way for designers to exhibit their clothing since the turn of the century but it is rare, no designer after six months hard work wants all of the attention to be on the dance rather than the designs. It seems so frustrating that designers biannually have the opportunity to create a space for performance and rarely is this ever taken up. Unfortunately the desire or need of selling garments takes over the will to create anything bigger than the clothing.
However this catwalk surpassed these problems, organisation of the choreography meant that every detail could be concentrated upon. As a designer he has already established himself more than many could dream for. No one quite does ‘lifestyle’ like Owens and his designs are distinctively recognisable, many of his collections could surpass through time never looking in or out of fashion. Was this show a way to grow the brand beyond the notions of design? But to celebrate the name and expand on what already exists? To really create something beyond an image of a woman but perform it through these dancers? The photographs from the catwalk do not show the women looking vacantly into space but ferociously right into the camera as they march into view. It almost felt like the clothes had been designed for the dancers specifically rather than for the general public which is a brave but commendable move. Owens can afford to make this kind of spectacle because no matter what his fan base will carry on feeding into him. His customer is not the kind of human to be detracted from the unorthodox nature of these women’s bodies which is such a exhaustingly boring problem within fashion and deters so many but also attracts so many for the wrong reasons. He is established enough to do almost anything he wants which is why we should celebrate what he is doing now. For a designer in his fifties this show is tightly on point and visionary. It gave a platform for these dancers to show the world stepping, broadcasting it to completely new audiences. It celebrates fashion for the right reasons; it magnifies clothing’s abilities to create new, powerful identities rather than conforming into banal stereotypes of unattainable women and it expands on the enjoyment of wearing clothes and shows fashion as an inherently creative process that can integrate between the arts and situate itself in different cultures apart from haute couture. Besides from all these comments it was more than anything really enjoyable to watch, and shouldn’t that be the case of all catwalks?
You can watch the video which Diane Pernet made on the front row here
photographs taken from style.com