Friday, January 23, 2015

BEAUTY: Clothing--Rick Owens

So you may have seen in the news by now (yes, a fashion show made main stream news) that Rick Owens has finally gone and done it: he showed models' penises for his '15-'16 FW collection which he has titled "Sphinx."

OK. Now what.

Seriously. Designers have been sending female models down the runway in sheer tops and pants, or with no tops at all, for decades now. Breasts and pubic regions are clearly visible in many womenswear collections, time and time and time and time again. In popular culture, the bizarre "cult of the camel toe" is something that many women aspire to (in case you do not know of this fashion preference, it involves pants tight enough to ride up a woman's vagina, spreading the lips and creating a bifurcated region in the crotch area that resembles the toe of a camel). Between designers and the public, the female form is so objectified and displayed, and no one bats an eye because it is so expected. Conversely, we live in a supremely phallic phobic society (how many times does one see a woman's breasts or entire body in a film as opposed to seeing a man's penis?). And again, as I mentioned in my wrap up of the Milan shows here, this has everything to do with misogyny and homophobia, twin symptoms of the same disease, which is: the fear of appearing feminine. Homophobia is the fear that men will be treated the way they treat women. Funny at first, but the hypocrisy is so true. If men are objectified, that takes away their "power." It is expected and demanded that women show their breasts and sex organs, but for a man to have that same demand placed on him is frightening to him--only woman, after all, are to be sexualized. That is if you are buying into the whole heterosexual gender stereotype thing. If you don't own your own sexuality--or sense of sexuality--it will be made bland and condensed into the lowest common denominator.

So a penis is a penis is a penis. I happen to love them. So no big whoop. Time for everyone to get over it. Time to face masculinity as it is, not as the construct it pretends to be.

But what was Rick Owens working toward when he created this collection? He spoke of an old black and white French film that takes place on a submarine and he mused about the idea of so many men in such close quarters. This naval setting inspired some beautiful pea coats, some of his most straight-forward, wearable pieces ever. But Rick Owens is Rick Owens: watch as the coat morphs in each look, growing wider and flaring out from the body, growing a cape at the back. One of the coats is stained with maritime rust. Another classic, sea-worthy garment, the fisherman's cable knit sweater morphed into a jumpsuit. The deconstructed pieces that followed, draped and shrouded or worn like a type of apron, seem to be made of a pullover whose body and sleeves have been cut open, essentially butterflying the top (or spatchcocking, to use an apropos cooking term). These deconstructed garments appear to have two neck holes: one of them still functions for a head to go through, but the other one, a little lower, functions as a port hole for the other head. A on a submarine?

Once the smoke clears from the whole penis thing, this collection is yet another spectacular example of Owens' dedication to a singular, unique vision of clothing that speaks to volumes, planes, angles, and positive and negative space. It is another chink in the chain of his glorious, tunic-y, ecclesiastical-y, futuristic, ascetic minimalism that he has been forging for many seasons. I admire tremendously his dedication and unwavering integrity to what he sees in his head and heart.

And did you see those awesome shoes and boots? They are a collaboration with Adidas--oh my gods, those soles are amazing, like little UFOs attached to the bottom of a hair-on-hide boot. Or river rocks worn smooth.

Alas, in this video from Owens' Youtube account, the editor discreetly cuts away when a look with too much exposed penis comes down the runway. But you can still see a few little flashes here and there...

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