“Baubles, Bangles and Beads.” It’s not exactly where you’d expect to find Rick Owens, but there was that “Kismet” song — in several versions including a quivering rendition by Liza Minnelli — on the soundtrack of his fall women’s show.
“You’ll glitter and gleam so you’re gonna make somebody dream so that some day he may buy you a ring,” go the lyrics, summing up the age-old dance of seduction. Courtship has become something of a minefield in the era of #MeToo, but Owens thought it was timely to share his thoughts on the subject.
“Clothes are about communication, and a lot of times are about seduction, and I was just thinking what does that mean right now?” he said backstage.
He opened with bulked-up tunics in camel hair and linen felt, stuffed with goose down and swaddled around roomy backpacks and satchels, packing the body in what appeared like an improvised cocoon. Tube-like quilted boas looped around the torso, while folds of heavy felt engulfed the body under XXXL outerwear.
Though mindful of the ultra-sensitive nature of the topic, Owens said he wasn’t suggesting that women should retrench behind padded barriers.
“I see it as coquettishness,” he said of his bulbous silhouettes, likening them to the historic use of exaggerated bustiers and panniers in women’s clothes. “There was a sly wit in those days. We don’t see that sly wit in fashion now. That was a very sophisticated, almost provocative, almost bordering on ridiculous wit.”
It was hard to see how that linked back to the man repelling mood of the display, though there was a tactile appeal to items like a synthetic shearling parka that sprouted loose filaments, or the lapel-free coats with stud motifs and deep fur-lined pockets.
Owens qualified it as “arte povera seduction” in his show notes, questioning who writes the rules of attraction. If you go with the premise that a woman is seductive when she feels powerful in her clothes, then he might be onto something.