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.
For this SS '17 collection at Paris Fashion Week, he cited the work of legendary designer Madame Grès, best known for her floor-length draped Grecian goddess gowns and minimalistic draping techniques she created for her own house. Grès, born Germaine Émilie Krebs, was trained as a sculptress and regular readers know that one of the reasons I am drawn to fashion at this level is because it functions as sculpture. Fashion at this level is pure art and the shows are performance art.
So it is clear to see the wrapped and twisted Grecian forms from Madame Grès. At last season's Mastodon collection (seen here), Owens asked "How do I do volume in a men’s collection? Volume in a way that could pass." Mastodon was voluminous...bulky. Extreme. For this collection, titled Walrus, the volume has been tamed and made elegant. Where Grès created twists and rouched sections to compliment the body, Owens here uses similar devices to deconstruct the body, emphasizing muscle and tendon below the skin. It is at once a refined and raw statement.
Owens' own statement on the collection says:
THIS MEN’S SPRING COLLECTION IS TITLED ‘WALRUS’, AN EVOLUTION OF FALL’S COLLECTION NAME, ‘MASTODON’— EVOLUTION BEING THE KEY WORD HERE.
FASHION IS ALL ABOUT REFLECTING CHANGE AND CHANGES ARE HAPPENING. WE CAN FEAR CHANGE AND CLING TO THE SENTIMENTALLY FAMILIAR OR CHEERFULLY FLING OURSELVES INTO THE UNKNOWN. REMEMBER HOW THAT USED TO FEEL? I SUPPOSE I PROPOSE A LITTLE OF BOTH. I LIKE THINKING NEITHER IS WRONG.
JACKET LENGTHS ARE CROPPED WITH LENGTHENED SLEEVES TO CHANGE THE POSTURE AND LIFT THE TORSO UPWARDS WHILE PANTS SWIRL WITH VOLUME AND CASCADE, MELTING INTO THE GROUND. THESE CLOTHES ARE REACHING AND STRETCHING AND SWELLING AND FLOATING AND SWEEPING.
Like Balenciaga (here) and Juun J. (here) (as well as Bottega Veneta, here), Owens understands the power of contrast: tight, short cropped jackets, and fitted sequined pull overs set off the expansive, monumental trousers. And the set closed with some evening wear pieces that can be proudly worn to any formal function.