In “Power Players,” fashion industry changemakers tell Bustle how they’re pushing boundaries and moving culture forward, whether they’re advocating for sustainability, bringing more inclusivity to the catwalk or making progress in technology and innovation. Here, choreographer Parris Goebel discusses representation, brand authenticity and beauty standards in the industry.
Parris Goebel is “that bitch”. It is the only label that properly respects its impressive list of achievements. At the age of 30, Goebel is the genius behind Jennifer Lopez’s 2020 Super Bowl halftime performance, Rihanna’s numerous Savage x Fenty shows and Justin Bieber’s viral “Sorry” music video, to name a few. to name a few. Although she’s already added some of the most sought-after celebrity names to her portfolio, Goebel isn’t content to stay in her lane. Instead, she is making big moves in the fashion industry.
One of her many goals is to undo the narrow beauty standards that have long plagued the fashion world. Taking space in an industry that previously did not welcome creatives as diverse as her, Goebel recently launched a partnership with UGG, brand ambassador and model of the famous shoe brand. Through this new venture, she hopes to standardize Polynesian patterns, while helping dancers become seen as the artists and visionaries that they are.
Ahead, Goebel talks to Bustle about his plans to change the world — from the music industry to fashion, and beyond.
Why did you decide to switch from choreography to modeling?
Everything I do in dance already has such a fashion aspect to it, so it just felt organic to me. But for me, what’s really important is representation – in the sense of being New Zealander, being a Polynesian woman, and taking your place in the fashion world as a Polynesian woman. Putting me in places I couldn’t see [people like myself] when I was a little girl is so important to me, because I know another Polynesian girl in New Zealand will see me and know she can do it too.
What do you hope to accomplish in the modeling world?
Changing the stereotype of dancers. I feel like we’re not really celebrated in the fashion world, because we’re just seen as dancers who should only be in music videos and award shows. It’s about tearing down those walls. Dancers must be seen in the fashion world, on fashion shows and on the catwalks.
How does it feel to see yourself on billboards now?
I just feel like that bitch! Not seeing yourself, growing up, in those places and being the person helping to make that change just makes me emotional. I’m just doing my little part in the story. I’ve worked really hard, so in other ways it’s like I should Be there. I just feel proud – and for me, that’s just the beginning.
How do you select the brands to work with?
Anyone I partner with must be a true collaborator. It has to be a brand that understands me, what I bring to the table and what I stand for. I simply will not work with anyone who I feel does not align with my beliefs or who I am as a woman. Working with UGG was great because it was a true collaboration. They kind of gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted – from choosing the choreography to choosing the music to casting the dancers. These are my favorite types of collaborations – where you’re not put in a box, you’re just told to be yourself and express yourself.
At this point, what do you think of the future of the fashion industry?
There is still a lot of work to do. What’s really interesting is that as women, I feel like we’re programmed [with] lots of restrictions. We have been told for so long what is beautiful and what we should look like. It’s quite sad to think [of] how I saw myself years ago, compared to how I see myself now – it’s so radical. Our generation is undoing all of that and it takes a lot of work. It’s a frustrating process and I think it’s at least a step in the right direction. Brands are starting to listen and put diversity first.
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