A lot has been said recently about the (mis)appropriation of black culture. (Mostly due to the unfortunate musings of someone whose name rhymes with Riley Pryus). Even more has been said about the lack of diversity in the runways. Supermodels such as Chanel Iman have spoken out about being the token black girl on the runway. Even the CFDA has starting to take action after the Diversity Coalition charged them (and the other governing fashion bodies in London, Milan and Paris) with racism. But it was the unprecedented actions of Rick Owens that addressed both these issues in a social commentary disguised as a fashion show. Rick Owens featured "steppers" from four teams across America (including the Zetas from my alma mater, Howard University) instead of the normal models. Stepping is a tradition that comes from black Greek letter organizations (sororities and fraternities), which of course has its roots in African dance. (Search "Howard University Homecoming Step Show" on YouTube for a more in-depth explanation of "stepping".) The wonderful thing about the show was the authentic portrayal of black culture instead of the misguided interpretation of something "cool" from black culture (i.e. "twerking"). Beyond just the commentary on cultural misappropriation and lack of diversity on the runway, Owens also made commentary about the ideals of body image.
The steppers featured in the show were authentic American girls, all of different body types, shapes and heights. Instead of the slinky, six foot eastern European models we are accustomed to seeing featured in sample size 00 clothes, we were exposed to how differing body types (can and do) look wonderfully in clothes in general and in Rick Owens clothes specifically.
Hopefully the industry and the world will take note of the positive reactions to this show and be more inclusive and celebrate differing cultures in a respectful way. Rick Owens creating a spectacular show which captured the attention of the masses in a very energetic and tasteful way. Félicitations à Monsieur Owens pour un grand spectacle!
Check out some instagram video below of the show from Claire of the fashionbombdaily.com