At a time when people are talking about the lack of diversity on fashion runways, designerRick Owens upended all ideas of what a runway show should look like with his Spring 14 show at Paris Fashion Week.

The Paris-based designer—a California native and Los Angeles Trade Tech alumnus—assembled members of American step squads to perform in his designs for his runway show at Paris Fashion Week.

Step dancing has its roots in African-American culture, particularly among predominantly African-American fraternities and sororities.

Most, but not all of the models were African-American and the choreographed performance was a complete departure from the traditional restrained runway show format.

I’ve seen a lot of runway shows with smiley catalog models; icy and expressionless “Stepford Wives” models; air-kissing sexy models and blank-faced empty shell models.

Owens’ models wear expressions of pure defiance. It’s fascinating to watch.

It also proved to be an opportunity to showcase the wearability of Owen’s clothing. Rather than the typical wraith-like models, these are real women with strong bodies and all the variety of curves that real women’s bodies have.

According to The Cut’s Robin Givhen, the performance was created by mother-daughter choreographers Lauretta Noble and Leeanet Noble and featured step teams from New York and Washington DC, including members of Howard University’s Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

Owens, who had been watching step shows on YouTube and knew the history of the art form, told Givhen, “It’s such an American phenomenon. I was attracted to how gritty it was, it was such a fuck-you to conventional beauty. They were saying, ‘We’re beautiful in our own way.’”

The same could be said for Owen’s show.

 Published Sept. 28, 2013 at ApparelNews.net