On a sweltering day in Paris, press, buyers and more than a couple of celebrities filed into the Palais de Tokyo to see Rick Owens’ latest presentation. As one of the highlights of the schedule, it was inevitable that Rick would draw in the crowds – but as stans go, Rick ones are hardcore – climbing on top of bus stops and sneaking through adjacent buildings in order to catch a glimpse of proceedings.
As the show started, disjointed industrial sounds rang out, described by the brand as a “swooping, grating, unhinged exclusive mix…reflecting the untethered, wonky current climate”. Models power walked down the stairs, through smoke, and around the water feature in silhouettes that have come to define Rick Owens as a brand – huge, pointed shoulders, structural, trailing tulle and dark hooded capes.
Undulating between recognisable drum beats and harsher standalone audio, models showcased Rick Owens’ impressive command of texture and materiality – one piece saw denims and skins lacquered in an iridescent finish – both set alight by the blazing sun and referencing the show’s theme in it’s scarab-like quality: Egypt.
Inspired by the country’s sense of permanence, history and scale, Owens’ recent visit to Egypt influenced the overall direction of the collection – styled as imposing a sense of order and discipline in the current, ‘disturbed’ world. This played out in the pieces as a central dichotomy of restraint and freedom, or order and disorder: Owens’ previously tight-fitting silhouettes became second skins, whereas elsewhere, shirts and bodysuits were exaggerated to giant proportions.
Transparency became another major element of the pieces: mesh was manipulated to be both rigid and structural, or floating and trailing behind. Elsewhere, Owens utilised apparition leather to give a transparent finish to jeans, jackets and coats. It was a glimpse into the interior: a closer look inside Rick Owens designs, recalling notions of voyeurism, introspection and metaphorical transparency.
It was also these pieces, in their semi-sheer nature, which fared best in the elements – which in true Rick Owens style, created an entirely new solar system. In the central water feature, as the show progressed, a crane lifted huge orbs which had been set on fire, before dropping them from great heights into the pool below. Continuing to burn and smoulder partially submerged on the ground, the process was repeated three times, amping up the theatrical and thematic elements of the show as well as the temperature.
“A blazing sun crosses the sky, falling to crash to the ground over and over and over again” the show notes surmised. “Senseless destruction on repeat since the beginning of time.” Creating a collection and show which managed to pause the hectic schedule of Paris Fashion Week to induct its attendees into a brand universe may be a career-defining moment for other designers. But for Rick Owens, it was merely a continuation of his ever-expanding influence, boundary-pushing and disruption in fashion – mesmerising and impactful – and no big deal.
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