In addition to the press generated by Rick Owens’s Spring/Summer 2016 show yesterday, new reports have come to light that Owens’s human backpacks are nothing more than a copy of Leigh Bowery’s own creation dating back twenty years. In case you’re not up on Leigh Bowery, he was an Australian performance artist, club promoter, actor, pop star, model, and fashion designer, based in London and known for using his own body as a canvas for self-expression. As noted in an articled by Dazed Digital several months ago, Leigh Bowery’s work has served as inspiration for everyone from Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh to designers at Louis Vuitton, including its menswear director, Kim Jones. And now, it seems we can add Rick Owens to that list.
According to a tweet from Craig Ranapia, who writes an art blog, entitled, Muse, Owens’s model carrying a model look is directly derived from a 1993 look of Bowery’s (pictured above left). And other publications have taken notice. According to the Guardian’s report of the show: “It was quite Leigh Bowery.” Others have noted: “Some likened the show to a Leigh Bowery performance.”
Legally, there probably is much Bowery’s estate can do. However, there is certainly an argument that Owens could have made a mention to Bowery’s work in his show notes. Thoughts?