Show Report

Show Report: Rick Owens A/W 16 Womenswear

by Lucy Norris on 3 March 2016

Lucy Norris reports on the Rick Owens A/W 16 Womenswear show.

Lucy Norris reports on the Rick Owens A/W 16 Womenswear show.

Back in the basement of the Palais du Tokyo - the regular show spot for Rick Owens - it was lights down as we waited for his new vision to emerge. Wafts of super low sound waves reverberated through the air. Then silence. Lights up - and rapid-fire model exits ensued. Heavily draped dresses in cream and white opened the show, worn with the recently reissued adidas tech runner with thigh high stretch leather sock. Owens often has his female models wear their hair in an electrifying Pre Raphaelite style. This season, the girls' hair didn't just fly up and out - as they stormed past with force - it ended up evolving into webs that eventually cocooned their heads and upper body. Things started changing when a matted shroud of their own hair appeared on their heads. Either like silk worms that were seemingly spinning yarn or like a creature mid-metamorphosis, these girls were getting prepared for something. 

This collection was an extension of the designer's menswear narrative for A/W 16. It had the same title, Mastadon, and was also very much about environmental concerns. The paint effect, which oozed down the shoulders and lapels of some jade coats and jackets was a sweetened version of a print within the men’s collection. Rather than fight for change, Owens talked in his show notes about a more feminine idea of ‘folding into the ether.' He had his women seemingly seeking safety - or garnering strength for change - behind the veil of bubble-like shrouds. Together with rolled down boiler dove grey suits and cream gauntlet gloves, the women looked like bee keepers, which could make sense. Michele Lamy, Owen’s partner, has not only recently built her own beehive on the roof of their home, but the pieces from this collection labels come with one-time-only OWENSCORP labels, dipped in the honey farmed from Lamy’s hive. The plight of the honey bee was a cause that Alexander McQueen felt strongly about - and bee motifs often featured in his clothes and accessories towards the end of his life. On Erykah Badu's recent mixtape front cover is the slogan ‘save the bees.’ On the album she informs us that cell phone signals are killing off bees by disorientating their homing abilities, as they use the earth’s magnetic field as a compass. She asks whether we would ever give up cell phones for bees? She thinks not. Without bees there is no ecological system - and Rick Owens is one designer who has the courage to use his platform as an artist to engage us with an urgent ecological message.

In fairness, Rick Owens’ label has always been about post-apocalyptic chic. This season, long green velvet capes, thigh high boots and mohair draped on shoulders like fur. It saw his future-focused aesthetic rooted in a gallant historicism. This collection rendered one of his most colourful palettes ever. Tobacco brown, peppermint green and burnt orange were some of the colours. This furthermore spoke of climate change - and fashion's global market. This collection might be entitled Autumn/Winter, but it will always be summer somewhere. They might have been taking shelter from the storm but Owens' post apocalyptic butterflies were out to play. This actually felt like a more hopeful collection than some of his other more dystopian offerings.


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