Regular readers know that I do not follow "fashion" as in "What does Calvin Klein's sportswear look like this season?" I follow fashion the way some people delve into the art world. I think of "fashion" as "costume"--as a way to convey an idea or a concept. I appreciate what some designers do the same way one appreciates what an avant garde sculptor or painter or performance artist does. And in a way, these designers are performance artists. For me, it is not about what is hanging on racks in stores, but what these artists are creating and the ideas and concepts they are working with as an influence on their marvelous creativity. It is moving sculpture. It is theater. Fashion and clothing at this level serves as a kind of visual shorthand. A piece of clothing in the hands of a designer can evoke a place, a region, a country, a specific time or an entire era, a work of art such as a novel or film or painting, a class of people, even a social, financial, or spiritual element... and the combination of such pieces of clothing, as well as their harmony or contrast, can tell a fascinating story.
On that note, American designer Rick Owens showed a collection that was not groundbreaking, but completely true to his oeuvre. Owens' clothes have always felt very science-fiction-y to me, and in particular they recall the 1984 version of "Dune" directed by David Lynch. I have never heard a fashion journalist make this connection before, but I imagine that Owens saw "Dune" lo those years ago and was either so inspired or traumatized by it, he has been trying to work it out ever since. To me, it seems obvious. Season after season, I have seen similar silhouettes and ideas that had to have come from Bob Ringwood, the brilliant costume designer for "Dune." Last year, Owens delivered a collection that looked exactly like saint Alia of the Knife (for those who have not seen Lynch's "Dune," please do), complete with Bene Gesserit nun head coverings!
This season we see Owens' models in what appear to be a cross between Bene Gesserit robes and Guild Navigator tunics. It is a shockingly otherworldly look which was helped tremendously by the setting for the runway show. In a cavernous space, the models emerged from a long groove in a glowing monolith while a hypnotizing electronic beat pulsed and grew.
The robes and tunics may have an ecclesiastical look to them, but they boil down to skirts and dresses for men. Of course the question is, will such pieces sell? Will men actually buy and wear long dresses or skirts? Who gives a sh*t. This is exquisite performance art, people.
Take a look at the video from Style.com, and then go to Owens' website (link at bottom) to see a widescreen presentation of the complete show!