6 October 2016

A Gentle Touch

Spring/Summer 2017
(images via Vogue)

I loved everything about this show and collection (...except for the shoes, which reminded me of Dahl's Grand High Witch and her squared feet). The collection was a reminder of why I love Rick Owens. As confrontational as his aesthetic can be, what with glory hole dresses for men and sixty-nineing models coming to mind from recent shows, I always find the softer side of his work more alluring. Indeed it is a side of his work that I think translates far better for his womenswear than it necessarily does with the menswear. Whereas the Grès-inspired draping felt somewhat awkward on the men, it came to life on the women. Rick himself talked of the menswear collection looking as if it could be something unfinished, and I can certainly understand what he meant with that comment. Not to say that the aesthetic was polished as usual or that the clothes were incomplete in any manner, but there was a sense with the heavy draping and those billowing high-waisted wide-cut trousers that the bodies of the models themselves were caught unfinished. He was creating new shapes and new forms that almost seemed at odds with the human forms carrying them, and that tension, while beautiful to watch, is not something that I would personally go for.

However, compared to the menswear, the womenswear was breathtakingly beautiful to my eyes. The draping and casually twisted fabrics played perfectly in harmony with the body in movement. I loved the lightness of the clothing, especially with those fog coats in movement, where hand-knotted ostrich feathers were mounted to gazar silk (a fabric that holds its shape incredibly well and was designed in collaboration with Cristóbal Balenciaga in the 1960s). Rick said that he was inspired by the idea of fragility for this show, with the name being a nod towards anthropological shifts and the fragility of ecological balances. Whereas Walrus for men seemed to be about these strong alien shapes, for the women is was an ephemeral beauty that was transfixing to see in motion (please do watch the video if you get the chance - I must say that the music really was spot on for the show). But as much as we can talk of lightness and the ephemeral, it was reassuring to know that Rick continues to subvert with his material choices - linen tulle, stiff cotton buckram, and even horsehair for the windbreakers. People often talk of decay where Rick's clothes are concerned, but here it definitely felt like he was building monuments to fragility.


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