Rethinking The Fashion Runway: Upside Down Is Chic Side Up

Could it be that somehow fashion designer and iconoclast, Rick Owens, mistook the words, wearable tech for wearable neck? Thinking outside the box (which is usually his starting point anyway), in this case leads to harnesses, whiplash injures and hopes for a partner light enough to carry without causing a not-so-fashionable hernia. This latest collection was displayed  recently at  Paris Fashion Week. Owens admits the look is not for everyone and is just an artistic catwalk aberration that is in no way intended for casual wear either at home or the office.


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Dazed Digital

Who is Rick Owens?

There's nothing standard or cliche about Richard Saturnino Owens,  better known as Rick Owens. This native Californian rethinks the word, innovation, with everything that he does and is known largely for his creation of signature distressed leather jackets. In addition to his main line, Owens has a furniture line and creates a collection for Revillion and a diffusion line, DRKSHDW. He is attracted to the forces of human duality and the timeless balance between the primitive and the futuristic.


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After having dropped out of Otis College of Art and Design, he learned his craft when he signed up for a two-year course in pattern-cutting at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. In 1994, he began his own label, selling exclusively to Charles Gallay, a California retailer. Soon, he expanded distribution of his brand to Europe and moved to Paris in 2003 where he lives with his wife, Michelle Lamy. He has received many accolades for his work and in 2007 won among others, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award and the Fashion Group International's Rule Breaking Award.

The Spring 2016 Collection, Innovation and Rick Owens

Innovation is the key to survival in the world of fashion, and despite the invasion of the wearable tech phenomenon and 3-D printing, the industry still relies on craft more than tech when it comes to garment design and creation, although it is slowly adapting to technology as a means to increase production and provide eco-friendly manufacturing alternatives.

There are elements of magic and performance in Rick Owen's productions,  but he has outdone even his own outrageous self  with his 2016 Spring Collection. Former shows featured semi-nude male  models, a troupe of step dancers and a dazzling spectacle set against a cascading wall of bubbling foam. His runway moments have often streamed across the globe, raising many eyebrows and blowing more than a few traditional minds.


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In this new collection, Owens  uses gymnasts rather than seasoned models because they needed the strength to carry the weight of other models as they pranced down the Parisian runway. Bearing more of a semblance to back-packs and scarves than to human models, two women were harnessed together, one carrying the other. Some hung upside down; others back-to-back with a second face protruding from the rear. According to one observer, they should have strutted to the strains of She Ain't Heavy; She's My Sister, or something like that.

The legacy of Rick Owens

Infusing his shows with perception, depth and illusion is making Rick Owens an innovative and dynamic name in modern fashion. He evokes emotions and makes us think about visual symbols and uncomfortable metaphors, however obscure or obvious. Pounding to the beat of a different drum is one thing, but not using a drum at all is quite another.

Closing thoughts on innovation:

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. ~ John Cage