While NYFW hits the halfway mark with nary a crisis or controversy in sight, we revisit some of the most scandalous shows in recent history in New York, Paris, London and elsewhere.
1. Rick Owens Mens' Fall/Winter 2015 Collection, "Sphinx' (aka the Peen Peek)
One of the most talked about shows of the Fall/Winter 2015 season was Rick Owen's Sphinx, which featured male models wearing garments with cut-outs designed to show off their genitalia. Though by now the fashion world knows that Owens doesn't shy away from controversy, nevertheless the stunt still ignited a frenzy of shocked online posts. Of the collection, Owens explained that the focus put on the model's genitalia was an effort to incorporate a childish or juvenile aspect to the presentation.
2. Alexander McQueen's Spring/Summer 2000 Collection, "Eye"
Alexander McQueen presented his Spring/Summer 2000 collection in New York on the night of Hurricane Floyd. The show, entitled Eye, dealt with the theme of Western fears of Islam and many of the clothes in the show directly referenced traditional Islamic dress. The show was particularly controversial because it featured sexualized versions of the niqaab and featured models in burqas flying over a bed of nails that had risen from the floor during the finale.
3. Alexander McQueen's Fall/Winter 1995 Collection, "Highland Rape"
McQueen was one of the greatest provocateurs in the fashion industry, so it's no surprise that another one of his shows makes this list. For his Fall/Winter 1995 show, Highland Rape, McQueen sent out models bruised and battered wearing tattered clothes of tartan and lace. With some thinking that McQueen was promoting violence against women, the backlash was swift. But, in McQueen's eyes, the show was meant to represent the ethnic cleansing of the Scottish Highlands by British soldiers during the 18th and 19th centuries and the ensuing controversy upset the designer, especially since he cared so much about designing clothes that empowered women.
4. John Galliano's Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2000 Collection, "Haute Homeless"
For John Galliano's Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2000 show, he created a collection based on the homeless Parisians he encountered while running along the Seine. To that end, he presented a bricolage collection of shredded and tattered couture garments that had found objects like mini whiskey bottles and kitchen utensils strung along the models' waists. Many found homelessness to be a distasteful theme for a haute couture collection where dresses can go for upwards of $50,000 and the resulting criticism prompted Galliano to apologize for upsetting so many, stating that it was not meant to offend but rather celebrate the style of the homeless people he encountered in Paris.
5. Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall/Winter 1993 Collection, "Chic Rabbis"
"Chic Rabbis" was what Jean Paul Gaultier labeled his Fall/Winter 1993 show because it was inspired by a trip to NYC where he encountered a group of rabbis leaving the New York Public Library. The designer said he loved the elegance of their dress with their hats and huge coats flapping in the wind but the collection came under fire for being culturally insensitive with specific complaints from Hasidic groups concerning female models in the show wearing traditionally masculine hairstyles and clothes.