This was one of Rick Owens' strongest collections to date. You could put that down to a lot of things; the signature showmanship - some models appeared painted head-to-toe in odd hues like mauve or blue - the reassuring presence of Owens' signatures and the new optimism and playfulness suggested in those child-like cartoonish embroideries and that more colourful palette. But probably the real strength of this collection came in its emotion. Just a few seasons ago Owens was the showman of Paris Fashion Week, the grand ringmaster of crowd-pleasing entertainment. His collections were about teams, gangs and clubs - remember that step team? How could you forget? Or how about the metal band, Winny Puhh? But Owens is tired of pandering to the masses, so is looking inwards, focusing on personal loyalties and the ideas of his nearest and dearest. That process was kicked off last season when he showed his collection using committed Rick Owens employees as models.
This collection told two stories, both personal and touching in their own way. The first was that of a make-believe faun (the title of the collection), borrowed from L'apres-Midi D'un Faune, the famous poem by Stephane Mallarme, which was performed as a ballet by the Ballets Russes to music by Debussy. The story it tells, of 'primal urges, artificially expressed' to quote Owens, came through in the rawness - you could even say rudeness - of some of the pieces. They looked as if a creature who'd never worn clothes before tried to dress to meet human standards - see the shorts that were caught up and wrapped around a long sash of fabric, which recalled that infamous scarf from Mallarme's poem, or the haphazard panels of nylon hung from severe tunics as if wrongly stitched. No pieces conformed to contemporary expectations and standards - even a double breasted jacket was warped by being oversized. The second story was even more personal. It was that of Benoit, a model who has walked for Owens for years but was recently taken into his care on the invitation of Michele Lamy. To show his gratitude for this help, the boy would leave drawings of the pair around the house. These were the cheerfully spontaneous pictures that decorated tunics - a symbol of love and appreciation. When you think about it, Benoit is a reflection of many young men - the committed Rick Owens' tribe - who find comfort, safety and a sense of self in Owens' aesthetic and world.