That message was, “Fuck you.”
You could tell something was different immediately in his Spring 2014 presentation on the Paris runway. There were drumbeats and actual energy being emitted from the models, who were pounding their chests and wearing fierce expressions on their faces. Rick turned the runway, which has been reserved for strutting only, into a performance platform as his models broke into a powerful and aggressive dance while showing off the designer’s new collection. But who were these models, these women that were so different from what we’d been seeing since the beginning of runway shows?
Rick’s models were college-age American women, coming from four different step dance teams. Owens invited the women to Paris to help him express his personal aesthetic – and his commitment to nontraditional beauty, confidence and power. Rick and his models challenged the fashion industry’s ideals with their athletic thighs, round stomachs and natural hair. They exerted power and defiance. Another lovely thing was that there seemed to be nice racial diversity in Rick’s show, compared to the mostly-caucasian models primarily used on the runway. Rick himself said of his debut:
“It’s such an American phenomenon. I was attracted to how gritty it was, it was such a fuck-you to conventional beauty. They were saying, ‘We’re beautiful in our own way.’” “It’s important to take a minute to talk about working with a lot of different body types. It was a good exercise for me.”
Rick had been an admirer of step shows and was familiar with their history within African American culture. Watch the amazing performance below and just revel in what this brave move means for the future of fashion.
“We’re here and I still can’t believe. It’s something I never would have dreamed of, and I really don’t have the words to describe it.”