When I arrived at the show, the sight of the entire UK press section wearing what appeared to be plastic ponchos was rather a surreal one. I was pretty impressed by our shared enthusiasm in donning said supplied items - but then I quickly found out that they were being worn with good reason. In the end, rather than the feared visions of some jets of water shooting right at the audience, it was more a case of some cross wind blowing water droplets from the 30 foot fountains. Sadly, another audience section (who had refused to don said items initially) were the ones hit. This might sound like a serious case of first world problems - but these editors and stylists have been on the road for almost a month now, so any chance of getting 'fashion flu' via an en plein air dowsing of cold water was not a good thing.
This got me thinking about control. Or, rather the lack thereof. And in part that was what this collection was all about. Entitled 'Dirt', it had the same name as the menswear show shown in June. With a strong ecological message, its title is a reminder that we are all from dirt. Not in a derogatory way, but in a way that connects us with a feeling of equilibrium and gratitude. Here we are worrying about getting splashed by a fountain when there are hurricanes hitting cities and wiping out islands. Michele Lamy's cackling over the speakers literally spoke volumes about our arguably self-centred attitudes. The sound system also did a great job of achieving a bass so loud that it's vibration could be felt outdoors.
Incredibly cinematic, models walked up and around a stone fountain, appearing semi bandaged, like mummies from the tomb. Like explorers stepping into a post-apocalyptic land, one leg would be bandaged and tonnes of t-shirts were wrapped around a towering rucksack. Volume was often built out from the back via sculptural appendages. One look featured a bustle / bum bag proportion, creating a cartoonish take on a curvaceous derrière. This also got me thinking abut how the shapes of a woman's body go in and out of fashion. Owens, a designer caught up in the discussion around evolution and extinction, was perhaps here signalling our cyclical fickleness.
One of the absolute highlights of this week, this show's impact will be remembered all season. I'm whole heartedly behind designers, such as Vivienne Westwood, Rick Owens and the late Alexander McQueen, who have all designed collections creatively campaigning for the ecological welfare of our planet. But I think creative action is needed now too. The house of Rick Owens has done some wonderful work with bees in the last few years, having built a working beehive on the roof of the office. It would now be great to see these values come through in the product itself. I'd love to see some naturally dyed materials from Rick Owens, some upcycled cashmere, an organic cotton jersey line - or, dare I say it, a vegan leather line? This man is a visual poet. Even though he will never not sell leather - in the way that Stella McCartney chooses not to - it would be wonderful to see him integrate his creative message into product that thinks of Mother Nature too. If Rick Owens moved into this sector - even in a small way - it would be a game changer for the entire fashion industry. His influence is powerful.