I love the artistry, the creativity and the beauty behind the creations that designers present down the runways at fashion week (or month). Even though I was a first generation brown girl living in the suburbs, I grew up with images of Kate Moss – tall, thin, blonde with hazel eyes dominating the runways – basically the opposite of myself. It was the known constant – models were thin, tall, gorgeous and more often than not, white and that hasn’t changed much.
In 2012, roughly 20 percent of the 4,561 individual looks that were seen during the shows were worn by women of color, according to Jezebel.com. Diversity is something that is still sorely lacking in the fashion industry. With this reality, Naomi Campbell, Iman and Bethann Hardison began demanding an end to racism on the runway with the Diversity Coalition, calling out prolific fashion houses and designers, such as Calvin Klein (who notable sent five black models down the runway this season, as opposed to zero last season) and Donna Karan. That is a step in the right direction, but the designer that shattered all diversity lines this season, is with out a doubt Rick Owens.
Last Thursday, Owens presented his Spring 2014 collection with a competitive step-dance team from the US. Instead of the regulars seen during Paris Fashion Week, like Cara Delevingne (who is touted as being the next Kate Moss), Owens’ designs were featured on powerful, diverse women, who’s bodies were healthy and strong. Even more staggering is the fact that Owens designed the whole collection specifically for these powerful women and other women like them, instead of the waif supermodel or red carpet celebrity.
While there are those with opposing opinions, like at The Grio, the show has been met with mostly praise. It remains to be seen, but this feels like a defining moment in fashion. If anything, it gives little girls who are looking at these fashion shows, someone to look up to and want to emulate other than the typical teenage model.
The show was beautiful – not just in the moment, but what it represents and can represent for the future of the fashion industry.