Last week saw the passing of John Fairchild, the legendary publisher and editor of Women’s Wear Daily. In Fairchild’s heyday, fashion was much slower, less crowded, and less accessible to the masses. Making headlines was much easier for designers than it is now. Nonetheless, there is perhaps no other contemporary designer who’s made as many headlines as Rick Owens, and he’s done so without summoning Hollywood or the current It-girl. Those now-infamous male parts of his men’s show in January easily overshadowed everything else that happened that week.
But Owens has the shrewdness of a fox, knowing that surprises work best when they are, well, unexpected. So this time around, he eschewed gimmickry in favor of softer toga-like shapes inspired by Arcadia, the Grecian utopia — but, he said in the show notes, as might be worn in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. Showing in the underground space of the Palais de Tokyo, with its raw, scratchy walls sprouting tufts of plastic, he sent out models wearing cocooning tunics that formed cumulus shapes around the torso, or zippered alternatives that mixed velvet and felt. Flat, knee-high sandals completed the silhouette.
At times, the result recalled the Zen-like experiments of eighties’ Japanese designers, although the esoteric gold or silver painted faces were pure Owens. The embroidered numbers sporting shimmering sequins in geometric patterns were absolute winners. If there was a downside, it may have been the one-note feel and the absence of more user-friendly items, which always give Owens’ shows their unique balance.