Rick Owens

A funny thing happened on the way to Rick Owens. As I was almost there, my taxi hit a Paris Fashion Week bus and about eighty hysterical editors scrambled out and made a mad dash for it on foot. In all the confusion, I started running, too. And let me say right now: it’s impossible to look chic while running, despite what you may have seen in magazines. 

Inside, the situation wasn’t any less frantic. L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, a modest-sized venue, heaved with distressed fashion editors and stylists, making Rick’s front row look like a cramped refugee raft. Michael Stipe was practically sitting on Terence Koh, whose wooly sweater all but enveloped the diminutive Michele Lamy, while Gareth Pugh managed to perch three of his entourage precariously at the end of a bench; they stacked well together. My seat was long gone, but as I noticed several major editors crammed into the standing section, I decided not to make a fuss.

And why shouldn’t everyone want to see what Owens, now an icon, has in store for spring? It was only day three and already his influence was all over the runways: sheer layers, flappy leather jackets, sculptural constructions, weird nun habits. It’s a conundrum, to say the least, that would send even the most secure designer into crisis. But the collection was like a shrug at all that. Owens continued his exploration of sculptural volumes and origami shapes through luxurious fabrics that seamlessly merged the precious and distressed. All his signatures were there: the flaps, the collars, the rounded humped backs and floppy footwear, rendered in a palette of bone, smoke and ash—all accented by some of the most interesting casting around, lithe bodies and elongated faces straight out of German Expressionism.

The overall effect was one of self-assurance, of a master expanding the parameters of his own personal idiom. It was Owens developing Owens, and that’s why the man’s a genius. The show closed with a series of balloon dresses and rompers, in hammered gold and silver, that billowed at the back like parachutes. There was a white version that was downright pretty and almost red carpet-appropriate. That was perhaps the biggest shocker.

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