1 February 2013

Plinth

Autumn/Winter 2013










"I think the people whose work I've liked most, including fashion designers, have always had motifs and themes, which they go back to over and over again to re-examine and reinvestigate. When I see designers doing extreme changes, it comes off as frivolous to me. On the other hand I know there is a frivolous appeal in fashion right now. People hope for frivolity, and I'm always surprised to read reviews about my shows saying that they're so serious and so depressed. I mean I can see where they're a little bit austere or a little severe, but I'm in the middle of it. I can't see it objectively, the way the rest of the world does. I do believe strongly in having a continuing thread that ties the whole thing together, because I see it all as one long conversation or one long story, and each season is a new chapter. I want to be one of those designers where you know what you're getting from them. I think people appreciate having a personality or something personal to respond to, and I have a very personal feeling about what I do."

Rick Owens in conversation with Olivier Zahm (2005)
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Swagger was the keyword for Rick Owens' menswear this season. A celebration of masculinity. After recent seasons where Rick explored androgyny through the priestly garb of (Eastern) antiquity, with floor length robes and sheer dresses, this collection was a return to classic Rick. Long torsos, dropped crotches, monumental footwear, and a certain masculinity that has perhaps been missing from his work as of late (the Michèle effect as some would have it). Although Mountain explored a version of traditional masculinity, with its sharp tailoring and inverted silhouette, Plinth was a more accessible collection that really went back and celebrated what made the Rick man popular in recent years.

Rick's work may often look challenging and overtly futuristic, however when examining the ideas presented one tends to find the same classical motifs revisited collection after collection, albeit often rendered in a grandly abstracted manner. Naska and Island presented a softer and more androgynous side of the Rick man anchored around very strong accessories - heavy footwear, oversized sunglasses, chunky bracelets. These exaggerated elements on the periphery helped frame that more androgynous vision, and rather than creating a contrast, helped provide a more powerful edge.

Androgyny for Rick is not necessarily about blurring sexuality, but rather highlighting it - the reference he uses is of Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo. Rather than detracting from it, the inherent masculinity of the suit actually emphasised her femininity. Whether that is the case with Rick's clothing most probably depends on the wearer, for one can choose either direction, or lounge somewhere in between. That versatility is in and of itself quite a remarkable feat I think.

There is always that relationship at play where Rick's work is concerned. Indeed even so with a collection such as this, celebrating masculinity, yet not in such an aggressive or arrogant manner as the word 'swagger' would seemingly conjure. I found the open-back collars a rather interesting design element, for from the front they created quite a strong frame for the face. Yet once the models turned around, the nape of the neck was exposed, reminding me of geisha make-up, and the erotic charge of the nape.

This duality was evident elsewhere, take for example the monstrous boots, the exaggerated shape of which mirrored the oversize nature of much of the (military-inspired) outerwear. Rather than using the oily or blistered leathers one normally encounters with Rick, we saw ponyhair and other more tactile and soft materials, belying the aggressive nature of their shape. Similarly the large gloves, which complimented the wider cut of the arms, a military element emphasising the strength of the wearer, were finished in fur, being at once softer, and perhaps unintentionally, given the use of fur, more macabre.

The choice of the wispy hair in many of the looks (a sight all too common for me whenever I decide to brush my hair when dry), echoed the wigs in his womenswear offerings for Island. However where the latter suggested high priestesses, for the the former it was about again adding something more fragile and softer to these swaggering looks. Indeed it made a rather nice visual contrast against the footwear. In much the same way that the footwear and accessories framed the outfits at Naska and Island, I thought the choice of footwear and hair (either shorn or wispy) at Plinth was a very effective presentation device (although I doubt I would personally wear either).

In architectural terms a plinth is the base upon which a structure rests, negotiating the space between ground and structure. Rick saw this collection in much the same way, seeking to explore the idea of stabilisation, between eternity and edifice. In this instance the ground is seen as eternity, and the vanity or ambition of man as the edifice. How to reconcile the two? A confident swagger Rick would have us believe, and whether or not that is the only answer, for me it does make a rather attractive option.


xxxx

4 comments:

  1. Fur mittens are cute.I wish I have this!!!!Thin leather gloves are not warm enough in NY in Feb. And boots (looks like heavy and hard and well made )are nice too .
    Do you have to untie shoe lace when you take it off or velcro band can do? That kind of things are important for me.

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  2. M: I assume you can leave the top of the boot loosely laced, and just use the strap to make it snug. I can't imagine many people bothering to lace it up every time, and given the length of the shaft, you could get away with only tightening the laces around the foot and leave the top loose. A closer look: http://25.media.tumblr.com/5cbb4de4a8f0efef43139de08f2bc9b5/tumblr_mgsfajBFSG1qcko4zo1_500.jpg

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  3. Syed:This boot is still very attractive by your answer:D I love black fur one.

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  4. I want that first banana coat!!! And as always, your writing overwhelms me with amazement. You understand androgyny more than anyone I think.

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