“Statement pieces” cannot even begin to describe what Rick Owens sent out in a raw, cavernous space in the bowels of the Palais de Tokyo. Owens, who in past seasons had been exploring graceful ways of responding to decline and threat, thought he’d leave the sense of doom behind and go for something a little more upbeat with his latest collection, which he named “Glitter.” It was inspired by the Seventies, “when fashion embraced sleaze and transgression,” and when people responded to scary times by grasping for pleasure, acting with abandon and behaving with “unhinged defiance” in the face of turbulence.
What he sent out on the runway was more reminiscent of modern-day nomads, dragging their blankets and belongings around on their backs. Models, their stringy hair pasted to their heads and in disarray, wore what Owens called “sleazy nylon” puffer pieces. They came in the form of mile-long scarves that dragged across the floor or coats, shawls and ballooning shrugs that resembled reworked sleeping bags. Owens said he liked the idea of binding, of insulation for a crash landing. So much for leaving the gloom behind, as even he admitted.
All the proportions were exaggerated. Coveralls and trousers were as wide as elephant legs, their bottoms pooling over chunky sneakers and shoes with layered soles. Jackets were like voluminous leather sculptures, bulging with zipper pockets and pouches, while coats were made from ragged-edged patches. Some had their arms hacked off, and in their place were long and skinny tubular knitted sleeves, fit for characters straight out of a Dr. Seuss tale. Others were done in hand-painted denim for a “Seventies art school feel,” Owens said backstage after the show.
Puffers continue to be big sellers on the shop floor. Protection and warmth, meanwhile, are all emerging as major themes in the European collections which, fittingly, have been rolling out as America’s most shouty and controversial president-elect prepares to take his oath of office on Friday. Owens spoke to all those themes with some sweeping statements. Exaggerated as they may have been, many of them made sense.