Rick Owens' Raw Hedonism at Paris Fashion Week Men's SS19

"I kept telling everyone, 'kind of Burning Man, but don't use that literally'."

Rick Owens doesn't shy away from putting on a truly mesmerising, spectacular of a show. Location and set design is key. Both factors also never upstage the garments themselves as they hold up their own - or in this case, a series of poles did it for them. Through the courtyard of the Palais de Tokyo (Rick's favourite building in Paris), through billowing, vividly-coloured, dyed smoke, out walked the models. The smoke, said Owens pre-show, was designed in mind to help "it feel a little bit like a riot or Burning Man. I want to be reckless and dangerous. I want to die a used-up wreck."

The used-up wreck part, might signal the feeling you have after a week-long festival in the Nevada Desert, which is exactly what Burning Man is - a festival that believes in radical self reliance in Black Rock City, a temporary city erected in the Northwestern area of the Nevada Desert. Was Owens hinting at his own version of a survival kit, fit for fashion week? The show's closing looks were indeed a series of wearable tents. Inspired by the Russian Constructivist designs Owens had been considering when working on his Spring collection. "They're nylon parkas," the designer said, "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." Hope is what Rick Owens consistently delivers with every collection he puts out there under his own name.

The collection was entitled Babel, as in the tower of, which had made Rick Owens think of Vladimir Tatlin's never-built tower, commissioned by Lenin to mark the Bolshevik ascendancy in Russia. "I'm interested in hope." Said the designer. "When ideologies shift like that, it's always such a fascination  to me. A lot of times hope and ambition just crash and burn. It hasn't discouraged me from believing in hope, but maybe theres always that morbid side of me that think 'oh, this is not going to end well'."

One of Rick Owens' rawest collections to date, with a move away from the padded roundness of curves that Owens has been captivated by lately. Denim jackets hugged the body and jeans cut rough into shorts. They had a feel of Ricks first nihilistic approach to design, like when he was still living in Los Angeles in the 1990's. "That raw hedonism is what I wanted," recalled Owens, and raw hedonism is exactly what we were given. He also debuted his second collection of footwear in collaboration with Birkenstock, a collection very much about darkness and chaos was counteracted with sensible, sturdy footwear. "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 you're taking muesli with your Ecstasy."

Images courtesy of Dazed Digital and Vogue Runway
The Wolf of High Street


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