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 therunway. Let there be light, right?

While such religiosity might steer a designer to lay things onthick, in Owens’ hands, the theme was superbly subtle — give or take awimple or two. (But even here, a nun’s accoutrement du jour got the luxetreatment, made from plush mink.) Rather, Owens put the focus on“projecting purity,” which also opened him up to the work of artistJoseph Beuys. Thus, from start to finish, he worked a somewhat minimaland restrained vibe. Simple shapes were layered one atop the other tolinear effect, creating staggered hemlines: a felt jacket over a roomysweater dress over dropped-crotch shorts that hit below the knee. Pickedapart, the clothes were fairly straightforward, plain even — though noless excellent. Owens delivered on great, no-fuss knits — sometimes agirl wants to skip the novelty sweater — and precise, sculpted jackets,the latter fashioned from stiff fabrics (leathers, meltons) and inarchitectural cuts. Meanwhile, the down parkas, which the designer notedwere a nod to similar versions by Charles James, came with flattened,demonstrative sleeves — yes, angel wing-like. This was Owens in anutterly controlled, refined and reductive mood. “I like the idea ofsomeone making the effort instead of just talking about sex,” he said,while adding that his pieces could still read plenty sexy. “These areclothes for somebody who has a very satisfying physical life and doesn’tneed to talk about it that much anymore.”

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