If you are not yet seduced by the look of a strong-shouldered woolen coat over a drifting fishtail skirt, let Rick Owens steal your heart — and your fall clothing budget.
The ’30s have been gaining as a key reference for leading designers in Europe, and Owens found himself on terra firma, always upfront that silent movies of that era by the likes of Cecil B. DeMille forged his aesthetic.
Here were sculptural, silvery gowns with Old Hollywood glamour thrust into the 21st century; dramatic cloaks dragging over fluted denim dresses, and big, voluptuous parkas with tiers of shaggy hair spilling from the hood and the slashed sleeves.
Models drifted slowly through a curtain — sometimes a wall — of fog in a boomerang-shaped room at the Palais de Tokyo, some toting personal fog machines that they ignited as they approached the photo pit. This prompted howls of protest as the smoke engulfed pointy-shouldered black velvet column dresses, bubble-shaped shearling bombers and hulking puffer jackets with trailing sleeves.
Yet there was never enough fog to obscure a fashion moment to cherish, and one of Owens’ most ravishing collections yet. The sinuous silhouettes and the gorgeous color combinations — mustard yellow with mint; orange with rust — showed the American designer at the height of his powers.
In an interview before the show, Owens noted that he typically selects the music for his shows months in advance, and he had settled on a “hallucinogenic” dubstep track. Revisiting his choice a few days ago, all he could hear was artillery in the barrage of ominous beats, prompting him to switch gears entirely for Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
“Ordinarily, I would never use it because it’s way too sentimental and kind of tear-jerky,” he mused. “But there is this sense of yearning for hope and yearning for peace, and it just seemed to suit the moment so well, and the clothes.”
Then he pulled the collection notes out of his pocket, unfolded them and read the last lines aloud: “I have always found great comfort that in the history of the world, good has somehow always managed to triumph over evil. During times of heartbreak, beauty can be one of the ways to maintain the faith.” Amen to that.
Owens also debuted a collaboration with Aesop at the show. There will be candles and ceramic beads that can be infused with oils to place in a drawer or the bottom of a handbag, plus the fragrance that was diffused via those portable fog machines. Owens chose to call the scent Stoic.