Some of the most indelible runway images of this decade have been masterminded by Rick Owens. So when the first strains of music filled his current favored venue, the gritty bowels of the Palais de Tokyo, many must have felt the kind of anticipation Aladdin experienced after pronouncing those two magic words.
But the shrewd designer knows how to alternate extraordinary mise-en-scènes and more straightforward défilés. His latest outing, partially inspired by the 1960s cult-horror film Eyes Without a Face, fit into the latter category, which didn’t diminish the power of his vision. It was a first-rate show, dazzling in its devotion to modern urban luxury, irresistible in its strong display of outerwear, admirable in its skillful mix of the outlandish and the wearable — by Owens’ standards, of course.
The first model, with his otherworldly bald head and eyebrow-less face, came out wearing black sleeveless overalls with pocketed legs, signaling a utilitarian theme. The Owens man is obviously in working mode; other denim versions of those pocketed pants sported patterns that resembled bleach drips — or was it guttering candle wax?
The overall feel was one of tense coziness, with repeated bunching and wrapping, as on a terrific hoodie or outstanding mohair coat-and-top combos, culminating with draped robes in a downy fabric or shearling. The wonder of it all is that those soft sculptures never looked soggy, even when they circled the models’ waistlines.
Interspersed were ‘formal’ pieces, notably a rust-colored trench, a cropped shearling biker jacket with a collar that unpeeled like a petal, and a cropped tuxedo jacket that, worn with those wide pants, drew a new silhouette, enriching the brand’s vocabulary.
With the ack-ack music and ghostly white-powdered faces, the show reeked of the underground. But the craftsmanship and quality of the fabrics conjured high luxury. It is Owens’ incessant to-and-fro between these two worlds that has us in a constant state of awe and anticipation.