As the allure of wearable art continues to grow within the design world, the fusion between the human body and an artistic piece proves to be the most significant factor. Whether the fashion design approach is woven, crocheted, bejewelled, feathered, or even in the form of carrying another human the material appears to be insignificant when making an artistic statement.
American designer Rick Owens is never one for keeping things simple. His supreme style reinventions continue to push viewers to the edge of their seats and way beyond their expectations. His new collection entitled “Cyclops” – the same label given to his men’s spring collection,was intended to mirror the singular focus of the mythical creature, but from the female perspective. Owens stated his message was;
“I see that focused vision being more about nourishment, sisterhood/motherhood and regeneration,” said the designer in a release, noting that “women supporting women,” (Reed, 2015).
Rick Owens | 2015 Collection
The Spring 2016 debut was nothing short of breathtaking. The show commenced with women walking down the catwalk strapped into each others bodies with their excess limbs dangling in an afflictive manner. The look now dubbed as the ‘human backpack’, required the upmost level of strength and dedication to complete successfully. (The Guardian, 2015) The performance featured the models vigilantly carrying each other down the catwalk in an arresting balancing act. As the model’s excess limbs jutted in abundance, the strong women continued to parade gracefully down the runway emphasising their strength and highlighting superior femininity. The models entered the runway debuting the collection of neutrally toned bodysuits, dresses with dominant draping and asymmetrical hemlines, and oversized jumpsuits resembling a parachute. (Dazed Digital, 2015) However, the focus on the collection was drowned out slightly due to the shock factor and absurdity of it all.
As the traditional model criteria is to have great height and an ultra slim physique, the biology of being physically capable to carry another down the runway is rather slim. When casting models, it was clear a great deal of upper body strength along with supreme fitness was required to sustain the weight, signifying the traditional model was not fitting for this role.(Vogue, 2015) Although it’s not completely un-realistic, as it is possible to be strong without being of a larger size. (Breaking Muscle, 2015) To ensure Owen had the perfect show, he sought his runway girls from Paris-based dance and gymnastics schools, due to their sufficient training and experience. After infinite gruelling performance rehearsals and a significant team effort casting director Agnus Munro stated;
“It was awe-inspiring to see them be able to make that long walk—they were coming off the runway and collapsing and screaming with exhaustion and pain!” (Vogue, 2015)
Rick Owens | 2015 Collection
With a clear struggle to reach the end of the runway, the gymnasts and dancers involved retained full composure and portrayed nothing short of a nurturing, caring manner to the dangling lifeless body attached.
Paying homage to the strength of woman with an apocalyptic flair, the physical labours of pregnancy were also exaggerated through the alluring silhouettes relaying the characteristics of a pregnant stomach. The American used poetic words to transform his evolving concept of restraint into an endearing support technique;
“Straps can be about restraint but here they are all about support and cradling. Straps here become loving ribbons.”
The concept of challenging fashion with orthodoxy is a dominant theme as Owen actively displays the body transformation during pregnancy, again emphasising female’s ability to carry another.
With the main theme being womanhood and strength, this extravagant debut of empowerment and strong femininity portrays Owen’s clear respect for females.
Rick Owens | 2015 Collection
As both collections male and female appear under the same “Cyclops” collection, the theme of equality is accentuated with its philosophy of “The Trojan Women” drawing in on the idea of women banding together and forming a strong, united front. (Business of Fashion, 2015). This bizarre based collection utilises the human body as an artistic material the first time, the concept of wearing one another as an accessory is still far-fetched and contemporary to the world of design. However, with such eccentric displays, we wonder what intriguing designs will be showcased by Rick Owen next.
Rick Owens (2015) Rick Owens [Online] Available at http://Http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2016-ready-to-wear/rick-owens [Accessed 11/1-/15]
Business of Fashion (2015) Rick Owens: She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Sister
Another remarkable performance from Rick Owens challenges fashion orthodoxy. [Online] Available at http://Http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/fashion-show-review/rick-owens-%E2%80%8Bshe-%E2%80%8Ba%E2%80%8Bint-%E2%80%8Bh%E2%80%8Beavy-%E2%80%8Bs%E2%80%8Bhes-%E2%80%8Bm%E2%80%8By-%E2%80%8Bs%E2%80%8Bister [Accessed 11/10/15]
Dazed (2015) Women wear other women at Rick Owens [Online] Available at http://Http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/26800/1/women-wear-other-women-at-rick-owens [Accessed 11/10/15]
Style News, 2015 (2015) Rick Owens Models Wear Each Other Down the Runway (and You Won’t Believe the Photos!) [Online] Available at http://Http://stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com/2015/10/02/rick-owens-models-wear-models-on-runway/ [Accessed 11/10/15]
The Guardian (2015) Human backpacks and full-frontal nudity: why Rick Owens is master of the catwalk stunt [Online] Available at http://Http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/oct/02/human-backpacks-and-full-frontal-nudity-why-rick-owens-is-master-of-the-catwalk-stunt [Accessed 11/10/15]