There was probably no better way for Rick Owens to open his show, partly inspired by his Catholic school upbringing in Porterville, Calif., than with a sudden, blindingly bright screen at the end of the runway. Let there be light, right?
While such religiosity might steer a designer to lay things on thick, in Owens’ hands, the theme was superbly subtle — give or take a wimple or two. (But even here, a nun’s accoutrement du jour got the luxe treatment, made from plush mink.) Rather, Owens put the focus on “projecting purity,” which also opened him up to the work of artist Joseph Beuys. Thus, from start to finish, he worked a somewhat minimal and restrained vibe. Simple shapes were layered one atop the other to linear effect, creating staggered hemlines: a felt jacket over a roomy sweater dress over dropped-crotch shorts that hit below the knee. Picked apart, the clothes were fairly straightforward, plain even — though no less excellent. Owens delivered on great, no-fuss knits — sometimes a girl wants to skip the novelty sweater — and precise, sculpted jackets, the latter fashioned from stiff fabrics (leathers, meltons) and in architectural cuts. Meanwhile, the down parkas, which the designer noted were a nod to similar versions by Charles James, came with flattened, demonstrative sleeves — yes, angel wing-like. This was Owens in an utterly controlled, refined and reductive mood. “I like the idea of someone making the effort instead of just talking about sex,” he said, while adding that his pieces could still read plenty sexy. “These are clothes for somebody who has a very satisfying physical life and doesn’t need to talk about it that much anymore.”