Rick Owens Steals the Show

Emily Higgins talks us through the controversial designer’s latest catwalk conundrum

26th October 2015

The backpack has quickly become a must have item popular both on the high street and on the catwalk. Many designers have formed their own take on the accessory, adding a personal touch; Givenchy added their recognisable graphics, Calvin Klein stayed minimal and structured. But, not one to be outshone, Rick Owens’ take on the classic has caused quite stir in the fashion world after he showcased his own line of ‘backpacks’ during Paris fashion week. The famously controversial haute-couture designer sent his models onto the runway in a true to style asymmetrical sheer dress while also sporting a human backpack. Models carried one another down the runway harnessed onto each other’s shoulders and waist using thick straps and harnesses. Owens’ only casted gymnasts for the display as they have the necessary strength to literally carry off this season’s apparent must-have accessory.

Owens’ is no stranger to causing controversy with his eccentric and often seemingly absurd style, and this certainly isn’t the first time that the human anatomy has played a prominent part in his shows. He famously applied a strict ‘no underwear’ policy to his male models during a show earlier this year in which the models wore sheer tunics with the hem finishing at the hip, leaving nothing to the imagination.

“Women supporting women 

was a central theme”

The idea of the human backpack was meant to reflect a ‘singular focus of a mythical creature from a female perspective’.

“I see that focused vision being more about nourishment, sisterhood/motherhood and regeneration,” Owens’ said, noting that “women supporting women,” was a central theme. He went on to say that “Straps can be about restraint, but here they are all about support and cradling, straps here become loving ribbons.”

Questions have been raised however as to whether this Zoolander-esque display was an artistic performance with an inherent feminist message or whether the fashion world has gone too far; and the focus is no longer on collections but on designers trying to ‘one-up’ each other in controversial displays. Removing the true essence of the show: the clothing. The media furore has however made Owens one of the most talked about designers of the season and has won the praise of many fashion industry peers.  Owens’ apocalyptic, industrial style is now not only receiving attention from the fashion world  but his shocking shows have allowed him to branch into the mainstream media boosting the attention he is receiving for his extraordinary concept.

With the dust still settling from Owens’ controversial hurricane, the wait begins to see which designer will push even further to out-do his outlandish spectacle.

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