Revillon: Qu’est ce que c’est? And that’s only one of the questions raised by the collection designed by L.A. fashion darling Rick Owens in his Revillon debut. Among the others: Is the time right to revive a once-flourishing fur label that has languished to near nothingness, and is a designer known for antifashion tatters the right practitioner to administer such fashion CPR?

Four months ago, when Owens signed on as creative director of the legendary furrier, no one expected him to transform into a glitz-loving Dennis Basso wannabe. Yet one might have anticipated that Owens would develop something resembling, well, a fur collection. But then, perhaps such an assumption amounts merely to a critic’s parochial vision. As the designer indicated last week, the house’s recent weakness and long-term lack of a major designer presence have left him with no iconography to shatter, which he considers a plus. “My assignment is to create the identity,” he said.

Clearly, in his first effort, Owens chose to make that identity indiscernible from that of his own house — with the addition of fur utilized in a manner he called “humble,” but that some may look at as, if not an apology for using fur, then at least an indifference to the richness of its possibilities. That said, this was a very good Rick Owens collection, one that, even with its street sensibility and more than a few worn-out, ripped tanks, avoided the ponderous angst that sometimes weighs down his work.

And although he often masked the fact — showing a cropped jacket with a fur liner, for example — Owens did work his furs in diverse ways, from loose little boleros cut away in back to strands of what looked like long, cutting-room scraps draped at the waist or neck. And he showed some almost furs: diaphanous feather cardigans perfect for the street angel with a touch of attitude.

“They’re not red-carpet furs,” Owens said of his lineup, with what can only be called artistic understatement. “I want them to be everyday furs.” Now it remains to be seen whether he can turn Revillon into a complete ready-to-wear house using fur as a component, clearly his debut approach.Conversely, if he plans to focus more on the house signature in the future, can he forge a market not only for the occasional undone fur piece à la Ann Demeulemeester, but for an entire collection with its heart, if not its price tag, about as far as tony fashion gets from traditional notions of luxe? Time will tell.

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