Regular readers know of my admiration for the amazing Owens. He is not a "fashion designer," he is a sculptor (I mean that figuratively, but it can also be taken semi-literally with Owens recently launching his own product and furniture line). He has been true to his own aesthetic for many years now, unwavering in his singular vision which is a kind of minimalist, primal approach to what we as humans drape over our forms for protection and decoration. With that in mind, it seems that Owens' inspiration for this Fall-Winter '16-'17 collection at Paris Fashion Week could be the closest he has come to expressing his personal archetype. A few layers went into the making of this collection. First, his wife Michele Lamy has started keeping bees on the rooftop of their Paris home. Second, the near-total annihilation of the bee population on the planet, drowning polar bears, the warmest year on record, freak rain/snow storms and floods and droughts, and rising sea levels (Miami Beach is now routinely flooded and more coastal areas are next) made Owens think "about the ecological anxiety we are all feeling. What is the worst possible scenario?" And third, to answer that question, he titled this collection "Mastodon" and held the show in the subterranean cave-like basement of the Palais du Tokyo. Clearly the worst case scenario is the the complete collapse of our world due to apocalyptic climate change. No power, no food, no infrastructure, no business, no nuthin'. And we return to living like prehistoric man. A ghostly white face here and there reminded us that we are on the brink of death as a species if we don't act swiftly and decisively. This rather "Clan of the Cave Bear" moment saw models wrapped in huge, bulky swaths of fur, shearling, and leather certainly looking like man primeval. Owens said, "How do I do volume in a men’s collection? Volume in a way that could pass." He added volume not only in the caveman-like swaddling but in the form of the traditional cargo pocket on the side of trousers...but this is Rick Owens, so the scale of the pockets was enormous, able to fit all the personal belongings one can carry when one is forced from one's home. Or enough flint tools and dried meat to sustain for a while. The pieces in the collection come in expected Owens colors: black, grey, white, and tan, but in keeping with the prehistoric motif, he added a lava/magma orange dripping down coats and trousers...the idea of end-Triassic volcanoes is a nice counterpoint to the black of the tar pits in the rest of the collection. Fashion journalist Alexander Fury was at the show for Vogue and observed: "Today, Owens’s clothes were, on the one hand, violent—they looked disemboweled, prolapsed, eviscerated. But there was also something protective about the sloppy down-jackets wrestling about the body, the sheepskins fused together as if protecting your flank. 'Hope for the best,' Owens shrugged. 'But prepare for the worst.'"
Yes, perhaps our eventual extinction, like the dinosaurs, is looming in our future...