Rick Owens' dystopian dandies

One needed a face mask to even stay at the latest Rick Owens show, so dense was the multicolored smoke billowing from towers above the fountain at Palais de Tokyo show. The show invitation was actually a black cotton surgical mask, as the audience sat down under the beating noonday sun. Nearly everyone put theirs on.


Rick Owens Spring/ Summer 19 - Photo: PixelFormula

 
Even for a designer with a post-apocalyptic bent, this was a dystopian moment indeed.  That said this was a brilliantly staged show, where the images were worthy of a meeting between Pier Paolo Pasolini and D.W. Griffith. As ever chez Rick the sense of anticipation was palpable pre-show, as ASAP Rocky and Kris Van Assche had paparazzi in a feeding frenzy.
 
With the music of Leave me Along by Tommy Cash churning out of huge loudspeakers, Owens sent out chopped up muscle shirts worn over massive chaps, like some avant-garde cowboy artist; or remarkable putty, gray elephantine-sized patchwork pants; and some safari jackets with one sleeve down like the stripes part of an American flag. He also included a few epic cloaks cut in layers that swept through the massive clouds of indigo blue, and emerald green smoke.


Rick Owens Spring/ Summer 19 - Photo: PixelFormula

 
All a tad kinky too: one mask even grew tentacles that ended at the groin. However, there was a final quintet that did raise a few eyebrows, where the models wore struts and metallic poles that made the fabric sit yards off the body. A look that had front row several critics muttering Craig Green, referring to the UK talent who has played with this idea.
 
A minor criticism after the extraordinary imagery of this show. Owens will probably not sell much from this runway show, most of his business is done pre-collection, but the power of his presentations will always leave an indelible mark on the memory. One of many reasons why he is a genuinely great designer.

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