Gender non-conforming writer and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon said it best: “always the mood board, never the model”. Queer and gender non-conforming aesthetics often serve as an inspiration for more mainstream art, while completely being shoved aside as soon as the moodboarding phase is over. Luckily, some people get that, and do what they can to do the originator right. Enter Rick Owens and his FW19 Ready to Wear fashion show, as seen at Paris Fashion Week.
Fashion show turned performance
Ever since his Fashion Week debut in 2002, Rick Owens has been known for his unconventional, avant-garde approach to fashion, with often otherworldy silhouettes and fascinating fashion shows that border on performance art. Remember those human backpacks from SS16? Yup. Hard to forget.
For his latest FW19 show, Owens found his inspiration on Instagram of all places, on the profile of trans drag artist Salvia. Salvia combines make-up, prosthetics, props and digital editing to create her surreal self: a breathtaking flesh-coloured angeldemon.
Owens spotted Salvia on his feed, and one DM (or well, business e-mail) later, he asked her to design the make-up for his show, and flew her out to Paris. And thus, models walked the runway with pointy prosthetics on their cheeks, smokey graphic make-up that altered their face structure and full sclera lenses, making their eyes look like solid black pits.
It made for a perfect fusion between the Instagram phenomenon and Owens’s exceptionally glam collection, for a customer who wants to look glamorous and disrupt the status quo at the same time. Yes, the world is ending, but we are going to look fierce while we rise from the ashes. This show proves that working together and honouring the often queer forces that push fashion and art forward is worth it. Because you either know already or you will realise later: we are the future.