Rick Owens has been contemplating the world around us recently. It’s a tragic mess, a derailed train plummeted towards the cliff’s edge. Sadness is a greatly felt emotion; the general tone of today is sombre. In March at his womenswear show he was looking at climate change. The clothes suggested they were “defensive suiting to shield the models from the invasive perils of global warning.” In June at his menswear show, Owens was thinking about the apocalypse.
Apocalyptic inspirations are no stranger to fashion. Rei Kawakubo and Karl Lagerfeld have both dabbled with it before. At Rick Owens their is a unique take on the theme. There’s sensitivity and gentleness, something that we don’t usually get to see. Between blearing techno music and stomping models, serenity is often lost—not this time. Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush” played overhead as the models graced the runway. It was strangely fascinating, the sonic departure.
The clothes weren’t so much of a departure. Besides jackets, they weren’t as commercial as previous offerings but it’s Rick Owens, who gives a damn? The first model was swathed in layers of gazar and duchesse satin, looking like a frothy cloud. The next model looked like a clothing hanger, the layers just falling onto his slight frame. The fabric appeared multi-purposeful, it was as much clothing as it was a tent or a large blanket, coiled around the model’s figure in distorted shapes. That’s something Owens does so well. Clouding the model with swaths of fabric, creating peculiar optical illusions that deter the everyman who sometimes fail to see the poetry in his work. The gentleness I spoke of earlier is a poetic technique Owens employs in his work. The delicate yet raw-edged fabrication—unfinished items; Owens comments this is his aesthetic as a designer. When the models walk, the clothing brought to life, the vision is complete. To think of these clothes in presentation format or on a rail would be unfair; they simply wouldn’t be done justice.
Owens distinguishes clearly between spectacle and runway show. There’s never a spectacle. His work is seen against the seemingly anonymous backdrop of a car park, but really the car park bears significance. It’s the homeland of this work, an urban situation. The jackets and the brilliant trainers are indicative of the urban reflections in his work. The slightly run down car park is the perfect stage for an apocalyptic study.
I find there can be aggression in Owens’ work. It’s sometimes off-putting but witnessing this collection you see nothing but softness. The gender-blending casting of androgynous models fused masculinity and femininity to create a balanced portrayal of the wearer. Rick Owens, the man himself, is the perfect example of a wearer of these clothes. He believes in what he's saying and he'll wear his statements on his back. That's inspiring.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com