Hairy Situation: Rick Owens Fall 2016

When a model hit a wall on Rick Owens’ runway today, her head shrouded in a nimbus of mohair, I couldn’t help thinking about that Chanel couture show back in 1994, when Karl Lagerfeld sent out supermodels wearing face-covering feathered headgear that made many of them stumble. Marion Hume, then the fashion critic of the Independent, wrote a scathing review titled Not a Way to Treat a Lady. Well, that was a while ago. Fashion was different, and so was fashion criticism.

Even after all these years, masking still feels esoteric. Yet, on Owens’ runway, the trick looked almost sedate. That’s because he’s been staging a string of exceptional shows with outstandingly original ideas that have set a landmark in fashion history.

This time around, just like his men’s show last January, he decided to eschew runway effects and focus on cocoon-like clothes with a touch of the utilitarian. That translated into draping and bunching galore, on knee-length dresses in black, white, and gray. Many were cut in mohair, a strong theme of the collection. It ended with unusual brown-hued pocketed overalls, made of high-waisted pants and draped tops in mohair or down fabric.

But whereas the men’s show exuded an endearing adventurousness, as well as a perfect balance between the deliciously outlandish and the more approachable, this show felt at times repetitive, centering on the draping he’s been doing for several seasons.

There was a moment of pure grace when the beautiful, crop-haired model Kathia appeared in a strapless black draped dress, with black knee-high sneakers that sheathed the legs. It was a nod to couture that was echoed in a passage of gray or pale-green capes. That’s a perfect way to dress a lady in the 21st century.

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