Paris Fashion Week spring 2014: Rick Owens review

Group therapy session? Wake-up call? Just a darn good show? Or maybe all three. But one thing is for sure, nobody will soon forget Rick Owens’ spring 2014 runway show.

The California-raised, Paris-based designer recruited step dancers from college sororities all over the U.S., including Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles area to come to Paris and perform.

The lights came up, and there they came, descending the staircases at the top of the runway, dancing, clapping and stomping, all body types and sizes.

“He recruited us after he saw us on YouTube,” Allyn Toles, 21, a Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister from the University of Maryland said backstage afterward. “It’s our first time in Paris, and we’re having a blast.”

The designer’s direction for his model-dancers? “Vicious,” they said.


Owens said he has known about step dancing for a while, citing it as an American art, and adding that he thinks of it as a kind of “brutalist” form of expression.

It was brutal all right, with each model stepping forward not to smile for, but to scowl at the cameras. Each girl was more confident than the next, and that was beautiful.

The verdict: Who could focus on the clothes? And that may have been the point. In this day of fashion-shows-as-entertainment, maybe the performance really is the thing. Or maybe Owens was suggesting we spend too much time trying to read into the meaning of clothes when they are put on such a vaunted stage. They are just clothes after all. The joy the dancers brought to the runway, and the joy Owens brought to the dancers by giving them the experience of a lifetime? That was priceless.