As designs button (sic) down their hatches and rifle (sorry) through military cliches to pepper their collection like buckshot, Rick Owen's brand of latent, potent warrior-woman suddenly has fresh currency. That said, Owens has always been a designer to tread his own distinct path irrespective of trends - he only showed a decade or so after founding his eponymous label (you wouldn't want to rush into anything), and his fashion seems imperious to change, founded on consistent shapes, shades and themes.
But with the rest of fashion filching his theme, inspirations and modus operandi - we've seen a hell of a lot of post-apocalyptic visions wrapped in raw-edged shearling these past few weeks - Owens decided to up the ante. Evidently a little healthy competition is a good thing for him. He opened his show with down-padded layers, wrapped around the form like primitive survival blankets in shades of bruised, faded maroon like a scabbed-over wound. The protection inherent in those felted layers was reiterated again and again, with greater force and impact than Owens has broached before - indeed, it became almost predatory, on models with hair slicked back into mohicans and faces slashed with warpaint. Maybe he feels woman especially needs to soldier forward these days, hence slicing up onyx and metal into oversized geometrics, somewhere between paillettes and plate armour roughly stitched to cloaks and coats. The jigsawing of those stiff fragments also echoed the pattern in the collection. It may be a first (or thereabouts) but it was superbly done, tessellated triangles locking teeth across cocooning felt, or slicing like shark's jaws up the side of stockings. In a literal 'extension' of his look, the line of some of those cloak shapes pulled over the head, fusing hood and helmet in a neat sharp cap of fabric like a Legionnaire's kepi cut ferociously across the forehead.
Perhaps, as his woman was quite so savagely outfitted for the most part, Owens felt ready to show a softer side - much like elbow-length gloves, soft fur fluffing out from their seams. Their flanks may have been covered in those tumbling greige capes, but the front exploded into drapes or multi-layered pleats softly rippling across the hip, while a pair of dresses tufted out into pleats on asymmetric peplums, trussed around the body with ribbons to give an indication of the form beneath. They fitted into the narrative of hard and soft, wrapping and protection - but would equally fit into the wardrobe of any woman, warrior or not. And that was what felt uplifting, and necessarily new, in Owens' soaring collection.