Every so often a designer leaps ahead of the zeitgeist to show a collection that enthrals and hypnotizes the audience with an unexpected hand of genius. Similar moments of triumph have been seen at Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margiela and Phoebe Philo, who each in their time single handedly defined a new moment in fashion.
Such was the case at Rick Owens on Thursday at Paris Fashion Week, where the mist-infused runway at the Palais de Tokyo, the backdrop to a heady ritual that had at its core an urgency: the need to be free, to be the best we can be, to dress in equal parts warrior and goddess during unexpected and uncontrollable times. Life is too short to be bland is a maxim for many, but an especially relevant sentiment to Owens’ customers and admirers.
“I always consider myself somebody that would do anything in the pursuit of beauty” Owens said. His latest work may be a career-defining best, the technical prowess of draping, sculpting, fusing and cutting cloth into unexpected garment forms had the audience in his hand.
Owen’s cloths are not the average fibres of the high street or even ready-to-wear. Here artisanal silks, wools and cashmeres, leathers and even the cotton is extraordinary. One couldn’t sculpt these gladiator cloaks and gowns with anything average. The hands that sew them must be equally masterful.
Pursuit of beauty
After two seasons of showing audience-free near Owens’ Venice home on the Lido, it was a triumphant return to the Paris runway, the diaphanous gowns and bias-cut sheaths shown at the end were masterpieces that could never be copied by a fast fashion retailer. A leather bra top, handcrafted in such a way to remove the middle support, challenged engineering, as did a cut-away pleated gown, which showed a perfect column of skin.
With furniture and homeware now a successful business next to the ready-to-wear, Rick Owens has cemented a signature that unapologetically pursues beauty, yet is more timeless and relevant than he may imagine.