Rick Owens worked fabrics like a painter works his canvas. His staple tunics and basketball jerseys riffed on the flamboyant costumes of the Ballets Russes and its star dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, while others came artfully embroidered with decorative figures.

The primitive, graffitilike motifs were actually based on the works of an artist friend who had done a series of drawings of himself, Owens and his wife, Michele Lamy. “I took the drawings off the floor and walls without asking,” he confessed.

Painterly, too, was the fresh and light color palette — new for a designer synonymous with black. Blush pink, bleached khaki, sky blue and plum showed the designer in a playful mood. Watching the show on a video screen backstage, he realized the palette actually matched the Art Deco wall paintings of the Palais Chaillot, where the show took place.

Owens clearly must have thought of the ancient Greek heroes, a popular source of inspirations for the Ballets Russes, given all the sashlike draping. Body and face paint in sickly hues added to the show’s disquieting drama.

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