Photo of LeeAnet Noble (Dance Choreographer) via Into the Gloss
Reaction to the Rick Owens Spring/Summer womenswear 2014 show in Paris has been swift and divisive. In the presentation Rick eschewed the use of traditional models and instead assembled a team of step dancers recruited from US sororities. With the lack of racial diversity on fashion week runways making headlines in the lead-up to New York fashion week, many fashion commentators have cited Rick’s casting choices as a reaction to this. Rick Owens may have wanted to make a statement, but I believe it for personal one, not a political one. He cast the show the way he did because that’s he wanted to do creatively. Rick Owen’s motives for casting the show the way he did should not come under attack, instead we should praise him for having the courage to exercise his creative license. At a time when most fashion shows are forgotten about the day after, Rick Owens was able to make a meaningful statement AND a fun spectacle. No small feat at a time when most editors spend half the show on the phones.
May I remind you that this is the same Rick who selected an Estonian metal band Winny Puhh to play at his Spring/Summer 2014 men’s show . This is the same Rick Owens who listens to Katie got Bandz on the regular. Rick Owens has always been known to go his own way and this season he was able to present a vision that is pretty much the polar opposite of what’s considered desirable in the fashion industry. The presentation was not exploitative but honest to his headspace in 2013. There’s an strong theme of tribalism found in Rick’s body of work so it’s not surprising that he would find inspiration in the energy of American step teams. Those who deride this collection as mere PR trolling are missing the point (ironically they may be trolling for attention themselves through their accusations). Rick spent months preparing for this show and the production would have doubtless been countless times easier if he just cast through a modeling agency. The show’s dance captain and choreographer LeeAnet Noble made this statement about how sorority stepping what caught Rick’s attention on Into The Gloss.
“I have been stepping for most of my life—I was in the show Stomp on Broadway and I had done a show before with one of Rick [Owens]’s producers. Rick had seen some videos online of sorority stepping. Women steppers are hard. When they came out with stepping in sororities, they embodied the intensity and togetherness that the men’s groups had previously shown, the sisterhood. And when Rick saw the clips, he thought that their intensity embodied the vicious pieces, strong materials, and colors in his collection.
For an industry that’s supposed to be driven by creativity, there’s a surprising lack of it on each season’s runways and shop selves. Instead of original ideas , we get overworked designers rushing to put out more of the same. The same (mostly-white) models, walking down the same runways, with similar clothes based off the same trends. Stylists also, are repressed in their creative output with many companies putting strict restorations on just how their clothes can be worn (many labels will won’t allow stylists to deviate from the runway looks). I won’t even get into how ads for high-fashion labels all look the same.
I emphasize with the the pressure that comes with the unrelenting fashion calendar and the constant push for higher sale numbers from investors but as Rick showed with his Spring/Summer 2014, there’s always a different way to do things. You can choose to market your brand differently. You can choose to to cast your show as you please. You can choose to skip out a fashion week presentation entirely. Rick should be applauded for expressing his vision in such an unexpected way. With the passing of Alexander McQueen and the downfall of John Galliano, Rick Owens is one of the last few showmen in the industry. The shocking thing shouldn’t be that Rick Owens did something groundbreaking this fashion month, it’s that no other designer even tried to.
Kim Jones may have initially seemed like a strange fit at Louis Vuitton but he’s definitely hit his stride at the world’s most famous luxury brand. I was a big fan of his fresh take on FW13 , and he continues to inject newness and youth into this spring/summer collection. This time Kim Jones set his sights on America, literally hitting the road from coast to coast to get inspiration from this collection (going from New Orleans to Las Vegas with plenty of spots in-between). Jones showed a runway collection where the mythology of the American road trip is merged with the brand history of Louis Vuitton. While Louis Vuitton isn’t really a brand I look to for my own wardrobe I can’t deny that there’s something special about what Mr.Jones is doing for the historic French luxury house. This collection is in the vein of what Ralph Lauren may have done in the mid 90s updated for the way men want to dress now.
If you ever wanted to see the LV monogram and riffs on everything from plaid to west-coast paisley prints in one collection; look no further than this. This is the summer road trip clothing for the gentleman who’s wealthy enough to fly private.
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Dries Van Noten comes correct with another extremely strong season. As one of the few designers who constantly threads new territory with each men’s collection while still maintaining the DNA of his aesthetic his collections are ones I always look forward to seeing. While brands have started an arms race of sorts, ODing on bigger, brighter, and more elaborate prints, Dries shows his mastery here , succeeding where many have failed. Models wore an array of florals taken from different periods throughout history.
The details are carefully thought out and the fit of the tailored pieces impeccable as to be expected from one of the Antwerp six. Everything from the size of the collars on the shirts, to the eyewear choices, to the gold-foiled background of the runway match the tone of the show perfectly. While his aesthetic may not be my own, Dries is an aspirational brand for me. I can always imagine myself in it and I hope I can acquire some pieces from this collection. I applaud Dries for avoiding the noise in the fashion industry and humbly steadfastly containing to deliver quality collection after quality collection at an incredibly fair price-point for the men’s fashion market.
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Rick Owens latest Paris showing is possibly his most minimist collection yet. Having played with glam rock elements and more ornate displays in the past few collections, he returns here with a ‘less is more’ philosophy. His trademark leather jackets return stripped down to all but their most simple shapes. Tank tops and t-shirts have few accents except for a few zipper and touches of mesh and leather. The footwear is a mix of the divise Adidas collaboration (which is growing on me, day by day, though still something I wouldn’t buy for myself) and a new equally strange-looking boot.
Adding to the show’s proceedings was a much buzzed about performance from a former Eurovision contestant band as Winny Puhh that Rick says he discovered on the internet. Despite a collection that didn’t stray too far from his foundations, leave it to Rick’s to find a way to keep finding new ways to tell his strange stories.
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Raf Simons has had a long storied career in fashion. Now at the helm of womenswear for Dior, many in fashion felt that own namesake label was placed on backburner for the past few seasons. This strong Spring/Summer 2014 collection should dispel that notion. Taking place 30 minutes outside Paris at the Gagosian Gallery surrounded by the work of artists Alexander Calder and Jean Prouvé, this show was Raf’s attempt at creating a memorable fashion moment.
Now that his label has survived through 20 years in the business, Raf had a chance to breathe and re-collect his thoughts. Bits and pieces of his past designs show up here, the bright optimistic flashes of color, the modernist graphics, and a certain youthful nonchalance expressed by each model who walked by. Something Raf himself commented on in his interview with Dazed :
“All the boys were natural tonight. There was nobody who did the hair for them. We showed them as they come so it was very much about the way of dressing, the way of choosing the clothes as a way to express yourself. It was not a camouflage in terms of how you can create yourself with hair or product or styling. You think about the collection and that is what is interesting right now. You can just take it or leave it but hopefully take it. “
With the length of the shirting and jackets being purposefully long and paired with shorts that were inches from the knee, there was a androgynous edge in the collection but the pieces themselves are versatile enough to be worn many manner of ways. I particuarly liked the black perforated tech-jacket and the bright sneakers/boots which looked like Jetsons pop-art versions of Art Maxes and hiking boots. Suffice to say, this will be a collection that will appeal to fans of Raf Simons.
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If you haven’t seen any of these VFILES XFW (Xtreme Fashion Week) videos stop whatever you’re doing right now and click play on the above videos ASAP. Video coverage of fashion shows is often poor quality, bland and poorly edited but luckily for us these videos buck the trend. XFW captures the frenetic energy of fashion week and the guerilla style makes for lots of laughs and cameos (See if you can spot Devonte Hayes, M.I.A, Linda Fargo, Tilda Swinton, Nicola Formicheti Kenzo’s Humberto and Carol in the videos).
VFILES describes explains XFW as
“Imagine Elsa Klensch on 5-Hour Energy® with a camera strapped to her head — that’s Xtreme Fashion Week but with a cast of equally XTREME hosts: popstar Maluca Mala, fashion vlogger Marie Karlberg, and male model slash actor AJ English, and more. The premise: strap on a Go-Pro™, shotgun a Monster™, grab a branded microphone, and GO! (to fashion shows).”
But really you should just listen to me, grab a snack and cuddle up to your laptop.
Be sure to explore the VFILES Youtube Channel for more content.
Words by Rocky Li
In the past two years I have transitioned from only buying mostly neutrals to wearing many more colors on a daily basis. Color and textures are such essential aspects of dressing and I’ve come to appreciate well-paired colors in day to day life. Taking a color theory class in my studies really helped me improve my understanding of color and the relationships between different color groups. I highly recommend you take a color theory class if you get the chance as it has many unforeseen applications past just painting or art.
This is the first in a series Color Theory that is based around the study of color in clothing and beyond. I’ll be sharing imagery and color palettes I find visually inspiring. I usually don’t find Hermès ready-to-wear collections particularly exciting but these backstage photos by Schohaja really stood out to me. The color palette is simultaneously nostalgic and modern, and the film grain compliments the purples, mustards, and burnt oranges here.
Comment or share this feature if you like the concept and I will be sure to bring you more of these posts.
Via T Magazine