Rick Owens at Paris Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2019
Scene setting: The insta-age has carved two distinct fashion camps: those who want to be transported and those who want to follow. Our avant-garde, poetic saviour is Rick Owens. For summer his shows are hosted in the raw, open air at the Palais de Tokyo. They are epic, theatrical and intense with rigour, passion and sex. At his S/S 2018 show models walked on scaffolding set metres high above the space. Barely visible, they descended onto the industrial catwalk with demonic force. For S/S 2019 Owens’ boys circled potent eruptions of vivid coloured gas. First blue, then green, then red and yellow – the gas lingered like new thoughts in the brain.
Mood board: For this collection Owens explores the Tower of Babel – a biblical story which offers an explanation as to why the world’s people speak different languages. It is a myth about compassion and understanding and who doesn’t need a bit of that right now? The clothes are an allegory for our times. A scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927 interprets the Tower of Babel in a way that fits Owens’ mood. A flashback tells of how the lack of communication between the architects and the builders leads to the Tower’s ultimate destruction. No doubt this is why Owens’ clothes come with integrated scaffolding – triangular aluminium frames sit underneath jersey t-shirts, rearranging the silhouette of the body in the extreme. They contrast with relaxed washed denim skirts or denim cut-offs.
Team work: Owens encourages the eye to do more. The look is intense yet there are a lot of easy clothes: jean jackets cropped with sharp shoulder pads; sharp tailoring in summer wool or waxed linen with slim arms in sheer crisp silk gazar; hiking boots and sandals from the brand’s second season with Birkenstock. A series of hooded nylon ponchos closed the show. Shown assembled into constructivist shapes, they will be shipped flat to stores with a set of aluminium poles as, the show notes read, ‘a reminder of what could be.’