INTERVIEW | Gypsy Sport’s Creative Director Rio Uribe

Gypsy Sport's Fall/Winter 2017 runway show was unquestionably unique and, at the very least, original. Unlike many shows, it didn’t start with bright lights or loud music or a star-studded front row. Instead, the show began with Gypsy Sport’s creative director Rio Uribe speaking directly to the attendees from backstage, explaining to all that the show and his designs were inspired by people who live on the streets and “just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries we take for granted.


Gypsy Sport Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2017 New York Fashion Show (by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION)


The setting alone encapsulated his intention and desire to make the audience think differently about homeless, “to take a second to think about all the people who do live on the street.” Makeshift tents (printed with the iconic Gypsy Sport logo) that contained sleeping bags had been placed along the runway, a few kids sat around playing on their iPhone, and when the show began, the music the models walked to was provided courtesy of drum players who played on upside down paint buckets – the very street musicians one often encounters playing in the streets or subways of New York City.

He concluded his introduction by stating, “You don't have to give everyone a dollar, but just remember you can always smile at people and that helps a lot." Not necessarily an overrated or that simple of a statement in these times of tension and strife among nations, and even among Americans.

We quickly caught up with Rio Uribe backstage to talk about the show, love, and how we should respect anyone who wants to try and make a living.


Robin Torres: Where does the idea of this show come from, or rather, when did you decide it was going to be the key idea behind the show?

Rio Uribe: Basically the idea of the show came to me while traveling. I noticed homelessness in many of the places I visited, everywhere really. I’ve often seen improvised places where street people sleep and find shelter. Like when I was living in Paris and saw so many tent cities and refugee villages. I also noticed how ignored and dehumanized they often are by others who have more things, or are just more isolated from that. Many of us don’t realize how hard it is to be homeless.

RT: When you spoke at the beginning of the show, you mentioned “love never dies” in the context of the show, but also of what’s happening in the US and the world right now…

RU: Yeah.

RT: What did you mean by that?

RU: Things like oppression, dictators, presidents, power – they always end up by dying. But ideas, love, and power in numbers, when people unite, that never dies. 

RT: Today’s show was purposely unusual, in form and content – different from what most assume a "normal" runway show should be like. Is this part of the Gypsy Sport DNA, a way of thinking of things differently that was there from the get go, or did you slowly get to this point?

RU: We’ve never done a classic runway, so it felt natural. Our first runway show was in Washington Square Park so in a way, this is probably our more traditional runway actually. (Laughs) This year, the idea was to have the show outdoors but the weather just wasn’t allowing it. Up until the last minute we kept pushing it, hoping it would happen, but it just wasn’t going to happen, so we brought it inside.

RT: How did you get the idea of using street musicians/drummers at the show?

RU: We used a lot of talent at Washington State Park, we met new people since. Then we told them we were having a show indoors and asked if they’d be willing to play drums….They are pretty legendary too, you know?  Lloyd Wright, for instance – he’s a legend. I’d say he invented…or launched the entire idea of playing drums on upside down buckets.

RT: So this is directly tied into the premise of your show, even in a less obvious way?

RU: Totally. Part of the whole homeless theme and homeless people is how they are not recognized and acknowledged, and most subway performers seem to fall under that category. People just walk by and don’t really care, or take it seriously. I wanted to bring another group of people who are passed by every day and are trying to survive, and making a living.


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