There was a lot to distract and entice the eyes at today’s S/S 16 Rick Owens show. From the shining metallic, to the dynamic draped and collaged tops that paid tribute to experimental sixties American artists John Chamberlain and Steven Parrino - Owens has long been obsessed with both - and the rogue model, Jera, a former muse of Owens, who chose the catwalk to make an ill-advised and incomprehensible political statement, unfurling a banner half way round the runway, this show was littered with big (and depending on which way you look at them warped) ideas. But one detail in particular stood out, and got the audience reaching for their iPhones to Instagram, the ‘wind tunnel’ hair worn by some models and created by Duffy. It resembled a poke bonnet, those long-fronted hats fashionable in the early 19th century. Poke bonnets are interesting for their dual purposes and dual effects - on one hand it shields and protects the wearer from whatever hubbub and unpleasantness is going on in the surrounding vicinity, but on the other, more provocatively, it draws attention to the wearer's face, serving like a funnel direct to the wearer's eyes, nose and lips. Modesty and drama, protection and decoration are all combined. So what does this have to do with Rick Owens? After all, his show was dubbed Cyclops and was about male aggression and ’a monster with a narrow focal point,’ to quote from the show notes. But really it wasn’t that sense of a singular vision that made this collection intriguing but the many nods to duality and contradiction.
You could interpret that sense of double meaning from the given starting point for the collection, the M-1965 jacket - on one hand the uniform of valiant, upstanding military men, on the other the go to look for rebellious protesters and anarchists. You could also see it in the combination of Owens’ signature moody hues and new summery shades like crisp clean mint. But then if this was about exploring male identity and anger, then maybe those different moods are relevant - after all the best men, like Owens, are complex. Boys, like fashion shows, should never be one dimensional. Luckily, this was more than full enough of layers.