American fashion designer Rick Owens decided to use his PFW SS16 collection to highlight a cause that goes beyond the realms of fashion. Owens has a reputation for creating controversy at his runway shows (he allegedly slapped a model who held up a sign while on the catwalk that wasn’t in the original show script), but this time he is creating conversation for a more positive reason.
Yesterday at his Paris Fashion Week show, models came down the runway with other women strapped (literally) upside-down to their bodies, their limbs hanging limply. These females were tied to their torsos like rucksacks, and along with a group of regular models, were wearing the designer’s SS16 collection. This made for a striking show, and though we can’t deny it looked a little odd, the message behind this was both profound and important.
Owens intended to use his show as a positive commentary on incredible female strength and sisterhood – the weights women have to carry, and their ability to support and nurture each other.
Straps can be about restraint, but here they are all about support and cradling.
The skeptics naturally pointed out the more negative aspect of this venture, which was that the strapped female models represented women being used as “arm candy or accessories” or that they were “restrained” because of the straps, but the designer told Dazed that nothing could be further from the truth; the idea behind the show was to create a vision of “women supporting other women” in life.
“I see the focused vision [of this SS16 women’s collection] being more about nourishment, sisterhood/motherhood and regeneration; women raising women, women becoming women, and women supporting women – a world of women I know little about and can only attempt to amuse in my own small way…Straps can be about restraint, but here they are all about support and cradling. Straps here become loving ribbons,” he explained.
Many took to social media to comment on the oddity of the show while others described it as “deeply moving.” According to New York Magazine critic Cathy Horyn, each of the models were local gymnasts, which explained why the women were so limber and could contort their bodies in so many ways.
It’s certainly one way to highlight a feminist cause via fashion.
What do you make of the statement fashion show?