Although often designers forget, we are in the midst of the Autumn/Winter season - the oft-posed concept that the air-conditioned, climate controlled enclaves of luxury negate the very idea of 'seasonal' in high fashion is another kettle of fish, of course - but this season Winter was certainly the source of inspiration for Rick Owens. Whether this was the arctic winter of Inuit tribes, the nuclear winter of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, or simply the froideur of a Parisian cold snap come December 2009, Owens wrapped and layered his women for Winter as if their very lives depended on it. Owens opened with distressed and boiled wool, patchworked geometrically and softly tailored into wrap-around jackets and Owens' own skew-whiff and spiral-zipped take on the classic Perfecto, scissored open over the torso with collars pointing skywards. Showing every shade of grey through charcoal, hematite and anthracite to slate, Owens' palette quickly lightened to the palest, iciest arctic grey, barely a shade above white, accented occasionally with the sharpest of silver brocade or a slither of champagne duchesse-satin, a strong statement against a season of (and indeed Owens' own trademark) of excessive black. Owens' mastery of leather, however, was much in evidence, as was his 'dress to distress' philosophy: softest shearling, lambskin and leather were washed and weathered into those casually decadent, post-holocaust shrouds he so loves, wrapping limbs in hide and pulling hair back from faces with softest fur headbands. This season, his shoulders were stitched on the outside, giving a hunched, popped height rather than width or bulk - the silhouette, indeed, although multi-layered, was razor-slim, with a turn for the gothic, flaring from a high ribcage-gripping waist into flying panels asymmetrically framing the body.
In the finale, the combination of austere, pulled-back hair, sheared mink headbands and aggressive, confrontational march gave Owens' models the appearance of nothing less than a warrior-woman army, perfectly attired for any catastrophe that comes their way. And, in uncertain times, there are worse ways to dress than on the aesthetic offensive.