‘Tulle was something I assigned myself because I thought it was the most shocking thing I could possibly use,’ Rick Owens said backstage after his spring show. ‘Light, frothy, frilly. But then I wanted to make it architectural, I wanted to make it modernist, I wanted to make it brutal.’
Inspired by the Ballet Russes' take on Mallarme's poem, L'Apres Midi d'un Faune, models were cast as nymphs and swathed in layers of tulle that hung in a trapeze line, voluminous front and back. Some of this was icy blue, some of a deeper russet but many of the sheer shifts and playsuits had runnels at the front, tubipads of yet more tulle that had been crenellated and tessellated to former a sort of stiff bumper. Here was Owens’s architecture.
He inlaid it with felt too, in a rough natural weave shade, to give a feeling of forest creatures. That was further enhanced in the all-white body paint worn by some models, a styling tic developed from the men’s show – as in fact were a lot of the ideas here too.
‘When we were looking at the body paint, I was a little worried it was going to be grotesque,’ he said. ‘In the men’s I wanted it to be grotesque, but I didn’t want to be cruel with the women. But it ended up looking magical.’
An embroidered snake design on some pieces wrapped around at the waist, the two heads meeting on the torso, and made from thick, almost excessive satin-stitched thread to weight it down. There was starchy satin too, in sheeny black and bronze, with abstract protrusions that Owens explained were supposed to be his brutalist take on flower garlands.
Part of the magic of Rick Owens’s designs is the very fact they can look magic, ethereal with a certain stompiness (models wore saw-toothed platform sandals) on the runway, but then translates so easily into streetwear, come the buying appointments and production run. And the reverse is also true – that he can give streetwear an underlying beauty and elegance that is rarely seen.
But then, these were no fey will o’the wisps – under their chiffon were coated cotton shorts and leather; Owens had very carefully styled to them to err on the side of pragmatism, rather than anything too away with the fairies.
He had them walk the finale in formation, too, calling it a take on his usual theme of opposing armies.
‘It wasn’t a combative army,’ he explained. ‘It was a delicate army. I wanted it to be tranquil and serene.’
Even without standing in sharp contrast to Owens’s usual presentations, it was.