It’s a testament to Rick Owens’ scope of vision that he can put on a show that will make the hair on your arm stand up without putting on a show. He’s done that previously with more evocative sets (although the raw space underneath the Palais de Tokyo tonight was rather sinister) or an entire troupe of dancers and sure, why not, even some unexpected flashing of gentlemen’s privates in his last menswear show caused a stir. In this one, it was lashings and lashings of gold and silver paint on some of the models’ faces that did it. Or perhaps it was seeing the ones with the bare faces move among them that was more unsettling. Unsettling is good, and for a designer with such a clearly defined aesthetic it is incredible to watch him as he repaints the canvas white (or in his case black) and starts afresh. If last season found Owens at his most delicate and ethereal yet, he is no longer there. It was an uncompromisingly disciplined collection and yet, eerily beautiful.
It was all about draping. Capelet-like shoulders over a longer tunic over an even longer skirt appeared again and again, becoming more intensely shrouded and wrapped around the body. There was something topsy-turvy about the way everything was running longer at the front, gathering like napkin covers over a shoulder or rippling over the waist, while the backs were left simply pinched together and exposed. Black, stone grey, brown and ochre ponyskin was laid over cotton over felt wool, crushed velvet and padded nylon, at times all together like on a patchwork gilet. And then the sequins started to appear, first in a double Poseidon’s trident pattern on a frayed-edged sleeveless tunic before gathering in bigger panels. The effect, alongside the bone-trimmed suede boots with a small wedge heel or the studded leather gladiator sandals, was pretty stunning. Gold fringing fluttered as the models walked along the bare space like lost Mayan goddesses. Like I said, stunning.