Rick Owens’ FW23 Menswear show opened yesterday in Paris, transporting us to the set of a broody 90s sci-fi thriller, complete with the monochromatic costuming. In a collection that challenged silhouettes and blended intriguing fabrics, there was one overarching theme that touched on a slightly more controversial subject.
The show was held in a fog-filled room fitted with a stripped-back metal runway, setting the scene for the collection we were about to witness before it had even started. As models began to take to the construction-style walkway, the theme of the garments became clear. The first look (worn by familiar face at Rick Owens,Tyrone Dylan Susman) was a black cape-style top with flowing train and trousers, accessorised with a pair of leather, platform boots. This was followed by a black vest with geometric leather detailing and a similar pair of boots.
Following the first two looks, a sea of inky black garments in various shapes, textures, and styles made their way down the runway. Each conforming to the futuristic silhouettes synonymous with Rick Owens, we were treated to intimidatingly high shoulders and invasive leather puffer detailings, which added to the broody and sombre theme of the collection.
Whilst each garment was aesthetically stunning, the collection as whole conformed to a broader theme, asking the question of fashion designer’s place in the current climate. Rick Owens himself outlined his inspiration for the collection, explaining that: “THERE IS A BITTERNESS TO CREATING A COLLECTION DURING A WAR — A DESIRE TO CONTRIBUTE OUR SOMBRE BEST IN AN INDUSTRY THAT MUST REMAIN STALWART, BUT WITH A SENSE OF FRUSTRATION THAT NOTHING IS ENOUGH.”
In an era where vibrancy almost seems crass given the climate, Rick Owens stripped his work back to its bare bones, and commented on the true purpose of the collection. The collection itself was a clear representation of Rick’s discomfort towards the spectacle of Fashion Week in the midst of a war, encapsulated by the stripped back set and sombre tone.
With the world’s eyes on Ukraine and the humanitarian crises occurring there, the brief distraction Fashion Month offers is something that’s been weighed up by the fashion community as dismissive and ignorant in the past. Rick Owens has demonstrated through his FW23 Menswear collection that fashion doesn’t need to stop in the midst of these horrors, but it shouldn’t refuse to make a comment. The power designers have to draw attention to a cause should be utilised, and Rick Owens is stepping up.
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