After The Goldrush. Could there be a more apt tagline for fashion right now? After a boom, where new markets sprung up, and designers lived in hedonistic glory, the system is, if you believe the reports, on the brink of crashing. It’s the great unsaid truth that no one even really buys the clothes we all spend weeks trekking around the globe to write about - they buy the shoes, the bag, the perfume (if there is one) or small bits and bobs from the commercial collection. Furthermore, the way ‘clothes’ and fashion is being presented, consumed and sold is all in flux. So it makes sense that Rick Owens picked the Neil Young classic as the soundtrack for his S/S 17 show - the good days are over, he seemed to be acknowledging.
But Owens exists largely outside of the melee of modern fashion - he’s independent, in many ways. Pragmatically speaking, he owns his own company, but, speaking more generally, he is also in so many ways his own man. His clothes look like no-one else’s, but utterly like his. But Owens is a sensitive soul - he’s affected and informed by what goes on around him. You felt that last season. His show was aggressive and almost pessimistic - he was musing on environmental destruction, apocalypse, annihilation.
This season seemed to be more about acceptance. Fear and fight had given way to calm. Purity. Mourning. Peace. The initial garments emerged all in white, as if to suggest a blank sheet, a re-birth. The construction inferred ideas still being worked out - they looked almost like photographs of clothing, rather than actual garments. Trousers hung as if caught in a moment’s movement, twisting and turning about the body. Other garments looked like sketches or toilles - musings on a way forward. As the soundtrack talked of 'colours flying’, new tones appeared; mustard, brown, orange. They gave way to glamorous black and sequin embellishments. An optimistic end. The Rick Owens man off and up again - out into the night. If anyone has reason to feel confident despite the troubles that face fashion right now, it’s a free-thinker like Owens. He’s never bowed to the norms, traditions and requirements of the pack - and if they fall, he won’t fall with them. The vague party spirit that underpinned those closing looks feels right for him.