• Text Sophie Coleman
  • 30th September 2016

Dual strength

When it comes to the start of a Rick Owens show, you’ll often find his audience waiting in high hopes for a runway surprise schtick. For Owens is master of using theatrical or metaphorical elements in the telling of a story, rounding out his utopian vision of beauty beyond the clothes – like, for example, gymnast models carrying women down the runway (as happened at his ‘Cyclops’ SS16 womenswear show) or fully exposed penises (FW15 menswear).

But this time the hyper-focus was on Owen’s creations alone. Emphasising this message of raw simplicity, models donning utilitarian boots and no-fuss hair started in regal robed dresses, with woven sling-like material appendages – almost encasing them, an evolution of his harness support theme from SS16. Whereas last season was about community and calling on fellow women for strength, this collection suggested turning inwards to harness powerful female duality. It was there in the strong, structured origami tops, dresses and paper bag skirts, which were artfully juxtaposed and softened with flowing chiffon maxi-skirts or ‘tails’ underneath. Natural, anatomical references seeped through via subtle material or constructive choices: breastbone-like zip-up jackets; shaggy textured fur capes; fur rose adornments and material ‘wings’ or plumage add-ons. All lending an air of grace and gravitas to his flock. 

Owens emerged to close the show; the tanned, toned leader of his cult clothing ethos. Encapsulating all of his design DNA – architectural lines, precise construction, organic forms, luxe materials and a ‘moral responsibility’ – this season his oft-cited armour-like clothing evolved into a more elegant, elevated realm for women. A call to arms for renewed grandeur and delicacy simultaneously.