On the Heels of #FreethePeen, the 10 Most Controversial Runway Moments in Fashion History

Rick Owens FW15. Courtesy of Rick Owens

I’d never describe runway shows as “boring,” but busy showgoers can get a little, er, distracted every now and then. With the confident assurance that countless images will be on style.com almost immediately after a show closes, texts are sent, and shows viewed more through phone camera lenses than actual eyes.

Now and again a designer does something shocking enough to make everyone calm the f down and concentrate. 

1. Rick Owens Frees the Flaccid Peen

Rick Owens Menswear Fall Winter 2015 Collection Fashion Show in Paris

Rick Owens FW15. Courtesy of Rick Owens

You saw this, right? The Rick Owens show last week was very NSFW–but only in a blink, or you miss it kinda way. Of course, the cameras immortalized the nekked peens that went down the runway.



2. Kate Moss Struts With a Cig 

Kate was just living life on the Louis Vuitton runway. But her lungs were just losing it. :/

3. The Streaker at Prabal Gurung 

Honestly, this dude’s attempt to shock was met with a blasé world-weariness by fashion-folk. He was removed from the stage and Prabal’s show continued.

4. Indian headdresses at Victoria’s Secret 


Whoever thought it was okay for Karlie Kloss to strut it out in a massive Native American headdress was wrong. Ultimately, the look was pulled from all broadcasting and promotional material.

5. Iris Van Herpen and the time she vacuum sealed models on the runway in Paris

Of course, the idea was a comment on models being like products, and the inherent voyeurism that occurs at fashion shows. In practice, however, the models, shrink-wrapped, vacuum packed, and hooked up to oxygen tanks looked supremely uncomfortable.

6. In 2009, a seven months pregnant Jourdan Dunn walked Jean Paul Gaultier

Her 7 months of pregnancy did not dissuade Gaultier from casting Jourdan Dunn. He simply padded her tummy to match the iconic/conical boobs and sent her down the runway.

7. Alexander McQueen’s Highland Rape collection

As seen here on Sarah Jessica Parker

The Highland Rape collection was McQueen’s 4th, and the clothes were making statements more than preparing to be sold on department store racks. It was in fact a reference to the turbulent historical relations between Scotland and England. Many took the tattered clothes and bruised women to represent an extremely offensive view of women, but to hear the late Lee McQueen discuss it, his intent was in fact, quite the opposite–meant to challenge the problems of perception women still face in society and place them in positions of empowerment.

8. Dolce & Gabbana’s Racist Earrings

These earrings referenced “Blackamoor” imagery which harkens back to slavery.

9. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Hasidic Collection

Maneschewitz wine was sipped and the runway was lined with menorahs. While there was plenty opportunity for offense to be taken, most editors reported feeling it had been tastefully done, and that inspiration can come from anywhere.

10. Galliano for Dior’s “Homeless” collection

To position homelessness as chic is inherently controversial. Of course, 14 years later, Galliano still courts controversy. He explained that he’d been inspired by the homeless people he saw along the Seine on his jogs. This was also the collection that brought the incessantly talked about Dior newspaper silk print. #derelict, Catinka.

Research contributed by, and special thanks to Jen Schnepf

 

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