Regal Roots at Rick Owens

The lack of a visual set on arrival at Rick Owens was a red herring. The pool in between Palais de Tokyo and the Musee d’Art Moderne had an array of pipes leading into it, and a peculiar sheen to the water. To open the show, smoke plumed out of the pipes before a black-robed procession walked poolside brandishing long poles. Those models dipped their poles into the water, rhythmically lifting up and pulling apart at the same time to produce a visual cacophony of bubbles. Ephemeral and unrelenting, floating and sliding, they provided an ethereal yet gentle backdrop to the collection.

Many of the looks sported retro-futuristic sci-fi-like pharaonic headdresses, evoking, along with surrounding building towers, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, but belied by the unexpectedly colorful applications. Owens had been thinking about the Mexican heritage of his mother, and the current border issues in his native US that would make it more difficult for him to visit family still living there. The constant talk of building walls and tightening borders hits close to home for Owens, an American living and working in Europe, and it was a natural response to honor his roots. Adorned with sequins, gold, multicolored patterns, patent leather, pastels and sculptural flourishes, it was both explosive and celebratory.

His waist bags were outsized, and curled like conch shells or bursting open like deflated wombs. Shoulders were sloped or sculpted like a young faun’s horns protruding many inches above the line of the body. Touches from the menswear collection in June appeared in the multi-laced applications and the iridescent leathers and gold sequins. An oversized stud application completely covered one coat, jutting out on all sides like futuristic teats.

The regal gowns in the last quarter were dramatic and powerful yet understated, despite the headdresses. What better way to honor the queens that create us all?