Friday, June 22, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Rick Owens

Ah, another dazzling collection from the master of wearable sculpture, Rick Owens (previously here). His Spring Summer '19 collection called Babel  was composed of Owens' traditional ideas and silhouettes but with evolved details. Among billowing clouds of colored smoke (Owens said in his preshow notes that the smoke was designed to help "it feel a little bit like a riot or Burning Man. It adds a sense of play and recklessness. I want to be reckless and dangerous. I want to die a used-up wreck"), models stomped down the outer steps of the Palais de Tokyo wearing clothing that was based on the motif of geometric vectors. Tops had triangular, vector-shaped slashes, while voluminous pants had stitching or seaming in the shape of vectors, and some were even composed of what seem to be individual pieces of vector-shaped cut-outs. Cropped denim jackets showed with denim skirts with irregular hems and side harness pockets. A few pieces featured very wide stripes, a heretofore unseen element in the Owens universe. But of course the most striking element was the wearable tents which were inspired by the Russian Constructivist designs Owens had been considering as he built the collection. Owens, one of the most existentially thoughtful designers working today, said, "They’re nylon parkas and they are going to be shipped as nylon parkas, with the poles separately. So you can build them if you want to. But what you are going to see on the hanger is a nice, soft nylon parka—the poles represent what this parka can be. That’s the idea of hope; that is what the poles represent in a way."

Luke Leitch at Vogue spoke with Owens before the show:
So why the Constructivist theme? Well, the collection was titled Babel, as in Tower of, which had made Owens think of Vladimir Tatlin’s never-built tower, commissioned by Lenin to mark the Bolshevik ascendancy in Russia. "It’s such a symbol of hope, and there is something so compelling about how it looks. A Constructivist tower is about control, and the Tower of Babel is about confusion: everybody splitting up and too much information, too." So this was a collection about control versus confusion? "That’s the story I’m telling every season," Owens replied. "That’s my story, and that’s the story of humanity: trying to fix ourselves, always trying to fix ourselves." As Owens spoke we got a close-up view of the models. Many of them were wearing sandals by Birkenstock, with whom Owens is collaborating on a line. The stylists were hard at work ensuring their toes were in tip-top condition (always a prime consideration with Birks). When I noted that it was interesting that he was delving into themes of darkness and chaos in such sensibly centered footwear, Owens said: "I’m talking about control and collapse and chaos and everything, but in my personal life I’m looking for a balance between responsibility, well-being—and extreme hedonism. And I think there is a way of balancing that out. Responsibility doesn’t mean you’re uptight, and hedonism doesn’t mean you’re evil. The Birkenstock adds this nice placid, serene feeling of well-being and liberalism. It’s like taking muesli with your Ecstasy."

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