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"Individually, the were impressive; collectively, they were formidable"
September 28, 2013 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Paris Fashion: Rick Owens’s Powerful Rejection of Conventional Beauty Big, athletic African-American dancers storm the runaway

Robin Givhan talks on the New York Magazine about the 2014 Rick Owens spring presentations in Paris, in which step dancers, mostly black women who would be considered over-sized by current fashion standards, did a fierce performance.
"It was impressive to see a sea of mostly African-American women at a time when the lack of diversity in fashion is in the news. But more important than the color of their skin, the women stood out for their individuality."
Callie Beusman, over at Jezebel, had a mixed reaction:
"Owens' show is both deeply inspiring and a bit frustrating. It's wonderful to see a major designer finally take race and body diversity seriously, instead of merely casting a few women of color and absolutely no plus-sized models. [...] But there's something unsettling about how much buzz these shows have generated and how intentionally they've done so."
Fashion designer Shantell Richardson aka Stepper #12 in the show gives the insider perspective in an interview for FashionBombDaily:
“Everyone who saw it and everyone who was there, [felt] some kind of strong emotional attachment to it. People were crying at the end. It was beyond. People in the audience were crying. Rick Owens was crying. It was amazing. It was a genuine performance. It was genuine, it was honest, and Rick wanted to honor the art of step.”
Style.com slideshow
posted by TheGoodBlood (32 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is pretty great. I don't understand Jezebel's objection. They don't know for sure that there were white, Hispanic, Asian or Native American "plus size" steppers on those teams who weren't cast, do they?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:52 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perfect is always the enemy of good.
posted by bleep at 3:02 PM on September 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Very editorial, love it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on September 28, 2013


Just awesome. The choreography was so much more interesting (and emotionally uplifting) than the wan, boring walks of most models, and most importantly, the clothes looked AMAZING on every single one of the models.
posted by xingcat at 3:12 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


A) I want some of those outfits
B) I want someone to make a sci-fi movie that stars these women. Aliens attack the earth, and they just get out and dance them the hell to death
C) everything about this is awesome
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:20 PM on September 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Beyond awesome.

Now let's see them fight the skinny ones!
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:26 PM on September 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am picturing these ladies going backstage for a lunch of 300feministsandwiches, then home to read their kids some misandrist lullabies.
posted by HotToddy at 3:52 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I for one embrace this new era of haute ritualistic industrialized stepping.

Black is the new black, y'all.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:18 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


A fashion haka! Amazing.
posted by Freyja at 4:40 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a huge love for the American arts of marching band/ step dance/ cheer performances and other rhythm based group performance art like this. To this foreigner it seems like a real American "folk" art with an incredibly rich tradition and vibrant ongoing scene, with so many young people involved. This was no exception- what a great performance! Their expressions were incredible, you'd never watch them and think "Oh look a bunch of sorority girls from nice American campuses", they were embodying a spirit much more fierce. And still feminine.

And so great that it was at Fashion Week, which needs something young and new to make it interesting again.
posted by fshgrl at 4:46 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it super weird and indicative of the continued segregation of this country that I just learned about this kind of step dancing (vs. the Riverdance sort) this year. On, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit, America's Next Top Model. I am 31. I feel like I ought to have known about this before now.
posted by mollymayhem at 5:32 PM on September 28, 2013


I thought that was wonderful. This was the most exciting thing I've seen in fashion in decades.

Everything about the fashion world is to some degree exploitive of something so it's hard to get too worked up about whether or how much this show was.

Rick Owens will get more attention than he's gotten in years and good for him.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:52 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rick Owens will get more attention than he's gotten in years and good for him.

But the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th designers to do something similar will just be dismissed as 'copycats'. So there are not likely to be a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th. (I SO hope I'm wrong)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:58 PM on September 28, 2013


Well, there will probably be a little flurry over the next year of fierce black women fashion editorials, and there may well even be a big demand in Europe for Step performances, but anyone who is expecting Stepping to become de rigeur on fashion runways will most likely be diasppointed.

It's possible though, that designers will get the message that the stereotypical model type is dated and boring, and start to offer up more unusual sorts of people on the runway. There's lots of types of people in the world.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:07 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not even like they have to change much at first, it would be a great start even just recognizing that there are tall, thin, beautiful women of all ethnicities who fit their sample sizes. Then we can move on to maybe expanding those sample sizes a little.
posted by bleep at 6:45 PM on September 28, 2013


So cool - these women are amazing. I love his aesthetic. I wish I could afford one of his biker jackets or, for that matter, the rest of his stuff.

Also, this set of looks reminded me of Alexander Pope's design on this past week's episode of Project Runway. (Spoilers, natch.)
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:51 PM on September 28, 2013


This pleased me like nothing else I've seen from the spring fashion weeks, and mainly because it was so exciting to see the clothes in action, not just being paraded along on the same pale blank-faced models.

I really love fashion and I love watching the runway shows, but god, the standard practice of sending nearly identical young women along at a steady clip, expressionless...it's so incredibly lame. Seeing the clothes actually DOING something was a revelation. Getting a sense of what it feels like to be wearing the clothes made me want to be wearing one of those leather biker dresses and stomping angrily through the streets! Most shows just give me the general idea that gliding along in a gown would be beautiful, but boring. I can't even express how it felt to watch a show that provided a real narrative of how it feels to be wearing this garment, of what kind of woman this dress can help you be. It was dazzling.

Yes, some collections absolutely lend themselves to a haughty expression and a steady strut. But some clothes demand movement, silliness, joy, anger. I hope other designers realize that it doesn't distract from their clothing to cast models who can express the feelings the clothes are meant to provoke, it only enhances it.
posted by padraigin at 8:03 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


if ANTM was your intro to stepping, you're probably not the mother of a tween who sat through multiple viewings of Drumline, starring adorbs Nick Cannon.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:45 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not even like they have to change much at first, it would be a great start even just recognizing that there are tall, thin, beautiful women of all ethnicities who fit their sample sizes. Then we can move on to maybe expanding those sample sizes a little.

Wait....what?!
posted by vitabellosi at 9:58 PM on September 28, 2013


You know, the word "fierce" gets thrown around a lot these days.

THIS.

This is a thing that is fierce. Right here. Yes.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:55 PM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


B) I want someone to make a sci-fi movie that stars these women. Aliens attack the earth, and they just get out and dance them the hell to death
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:20 PM on September 28


In a similar vein, consider this picture that someone from Reddit posted a couple of months ago. I love it, much like I love this story.
posted by themanwho at 10:58 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The clothes made an impact, yet they were not the stars of this show

They were pretty cool clothes though. I loved the futurism of the whole collection, but I am a sucker for a hooded cowl.

I love his aesthetic. I wish I could afford one of his biker jackets


YOU JUST STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. I have wanted one of those forever.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:02 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anybody know anything about the music for this show?
posted by quosimosaur at 2:28 AM on September 29, 2013


Oh, oh. I'm going against the grain here.

It was genuine, it was honest...

...the women stood out for their individuality

It felt just as manipulated as any other fashion show AFAIC. Individually, I loved the expressions on the women's faces, but one after another, it's obvious they were coached, rather than spontaneous. As far as being representitive of the 'average' women, these women aren't--they're tall, magnificantly athletic, beautiful women. The first few photos were amazing for the differences from the standard model, but after seeing them, I could tell what the producer was selecting for.

Ah, never mind. I'm just a crank that doesn't like fashion shows of any kind.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2013


this is AWESOME!!! those women are fierce! and I looooove Rick Owen's stuff, which is far outta my price range :(
posted by supermedusa at 10:43 AM on September 29, 2013


Alfredo Piola has some beautiful photographs (some from the show, some backstage) here.
posted by sophieblue at 11:50 AM on September 29, 2013


Rick Owens, we're all clamoring to support you: TEAM UP WITH TARGET.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:44 PM on September 29, 2013


I don't know what I think about the word "fierce." If anyone has opinions on it, I'd like to hear them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:06 PM on September 29, 2013


Callie Beusman, over at Jezebel, had a mixed reaction:

"... But there's something unsettling about how much buzz these shows have generated and how intentionally they've done so."


Yeah, it's really troubling when fashion designers intentionally generate buzz about their shows.

Ah, for the good ol' days, when humble folks like Armani and Dior would put out their fashion lines without a fuss.

WTF does she even mean?
posted by IAmBroom at 7:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


In a similar vein, consider this picture that someone from Reddit posted a couple of months ago. I love it, much like I love this story.

Stan Lee looks like he had an accident.
posted by mooza at 6:18 AM on September 30, 2013


Mei's lost sandal: "Beyond awesome.

Now let's see them fight the skinny ones!
"

No. Skinny women aren't the enemy of larger women.
posted by desuetude at 8:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Stomp the Runway: the choreographer behind Rick Owens astonishing fashion show - an article about LeeAnet Noble, "an acclaimed New York-based choreographer who’s been stepping since childhood."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:42 AM on October 26, 2013


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