Fame is fickle. Rick Owens doesn’t care. This time a year ago, everyone was buzzing about the incredible Rick Owens show where “real women” did aerobics in all-black ensembles. Ground breaking. Inspiring. Everyone loved it. People who had never heard the name before were suddenly huge Rick Owens fans.
Last season, he returned to a more androgynous look that left a lot of those new fans scratching their heads. This season, Owens is completely back in his comfort zone, with broad, structured minimalist drapes and structures. How do last year’s fans react? “I don’t get it.” “That was disappointing.” “I hated this show.”
And Rick Owens still doesn’t care. He’s learned over the past year how to filter out all the noise and distraction, staying away from those who would want to take him in a more mainstream direction. What we saw today was more true to form, a Rick Owens who doesn’t sketch but orders large bolts of cloth and starts building, cutting, and stitching directly on the dress form. This is the Rick Owens that finds meaning in simple, A-line shapes, large drapes, voluminous gatherings, and never having too much fabric.
To some degree, there is a sense of apocalyptic futurism in some of Owen’s designs this season. Model’s looks are stripped down to bare nothing, which was almost ghostly on a handful of extremely pale-skinned, red haired models. Hair was blown out. Looks tended toward being a bit billowy with light fabrics like chiffon and tulle. When backlit, the effect was rather ethereal, as though perhaps wooded nymphs in clog-like shoes were headed down the runway.
Oh, and the shoes are another hot topic. They’ve been routinely described as “monster truck shoes with teeth.” They’re certainly different from anything else one is likely to have sitting in the bottom of their closet.
If there are any real surprises in this collection it is the amount of sheer material Rick uses. I didn’t go back too many seasons to check, but it is certainly different from the more recent collections. This is an impressive tactic, though, because if Owens is going for stripped down honesty, looking at ourselves as we genuinely are, then this is a perfect way of doing it. The clothes still provide the form and structure necessary for society, but rather like looking at someone through Superman’s X-ray vision, we see the clothes as an outline, a superficial social construct, and then the true person underneath.
Of course, there’s always the chance I’m reading too much into things.
One thing for certain, there is fabric everywhere in this collection. Owens doesn’t skimp on the material, to the point that one probably needs to exercise caution if wearing any of these pieces around an open flame such as a candle or a campfire (either scenario I can easily imagine and the outcome likely wouldn’t be good). The more “formal” looks, as Rick does “formal,” are brilliantly constructed pieces that likely use a whole bolt of cloth and a surprisingly minimal number of stitches. We see some very dramatic architectural work in the last few pieces that would be equally as impressive as sculpture or possibly even a building design.
Too many people missed the point when Rick showed the exercise themed collection with alternative models. That wasn’t a look nor an aesthetic he ever planned to maintain. What we see this season is where Rick Owens is comfortable, where his talent really shines through, and if you don’t like it that’s your problem. Rick Owens doesn’t care.
Photo credit: Umberto Fratini