Rick Owens has returned, debuting a striking collection in Paris just this afternoon. Known for owning and producing a unique, dark aesthetic, Owens has always tried to operate outside the lines, in search of creating a signature, yet alternative beauty in his designs. Speaking about his work, the designer noted that throughout his life, he’s “tried to present something that is an alternative to a very strict aesthetic that we see in this world. We are expected to adhere to it, but I try to blur the lines. And not in a militant way, but in a way that’s saying, ‘I propose this as an alternative to the standards you are used to.’ I think with confidence and a certain amount of flair and boldness, we have established our own kind of beauty. A smarter beauty.”
The show opened with none other than Michéle Lamy, Owens’ partner and all-round fashion icon, in an all black look. Despite the monochromaticity, it was far from simple: the silhouette protruded as a leather, futuristic sculptural skirt atop thigh-high laced splint-like boots. A cape of black tulle energised the look, seeming to move independently. It was a strong start, and it was a decidedly Rick Owens start.
The SS22 collection was aptly titled ‘Fogachine’, in keeping with the dramatic plumes of white fog that encompassed the centre of the Palais de Tokyo throughout the show, an arena which has now become an established PFW stomping ground. It featured an array of Owens signatures; standout looks included a dip-dyed elongated sheer top over a barely-there bodysuit and the splint-like python boots, as well as a billowing tulle dress embroidered with iridescent raven feathers.
Owens’ choice of fabric, aided by the Parisian wind, both worked to infuse the pieces with a kinetic energy and gave them a distinct life of their own. Fishtail dresses moved at odds to the wind, and seemed to circle around the models’ ankles, whilst elsewhere swathes of gold fabric embellished the white mesh of a dress underneath.
Possessing an impressive, assured command over texture, other highlights from the collection included all-leather looks that were as reminiscent of the Matrix as they were a darker take on doing the washing up: gloves were thick, wide and perceptibly rubber-like. Knits were heavily deconstructed, laddered and layered in dresses that appeared in pairs, draping the whole body and winding around the head. These web-like knit dresses were paired with updated leg warmers, which apparently are back.
Overall, the collection resonated with both confidence and a sort of elevated-yet-threatening energy; it was charged-up, despite Owens not wanting to assign specific emotions to his work. Moreover, as always, he wrestles with the bigger questions in his collections. With shows returning after the pandemic, Owens understands that “everybody is going to want to flex. Everyone is going to want to show that they are stronger than ever, that they’re more powerful than ever. It’s a little horrifying, but I get it. So that’s where my head is right now. I’m thinking, nobody wants to see humility. Nobody wants to see a humble lesson. People want to see that we’re back to full power”. Crystallising the sentiment of the volatility of fashion week’s return to in-person showings, Owens then commented that “People want to imagine that everything’s going to be fine, and that we’ve got it all under control.” It seems, following the turmoil of the last year and from this poised collection from Owens, that we should all be inclined to believe him.