Pin It
Rick Owens AW17 Menswear Paris Dazed
Backstage at Rick Owens AW17Photography Lucie Rox

Rick Owens: ‘We have to reject the oppressive’

As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws ever nearer, the designer delivers a collection about ‘getting ready for turbulence’

So far this menswear season, we’ve seen designers react to the way the world feels perched on a precipice. In London, J.W.Anderson swathed models in familiar crochet blankets and Craig Green discussed the fear of the unknown, while in Milan Donatella Versace championed unity and Jeremy Scott presented an army-inspired collection which he said was about fighting for everything you believe in. Since summer, when Brexit happened smack bang in the middle of the shows, we’ve been thrust into a world which feels at its most divided in recent memory, and where today, a self-proclaimed pussy grabber is about to become the leader of free world.

Yesterday in Paris (which, of course, has its own rising right wing) Rick Owens responded to all of this in the way only he can. Turning away from the doom which dominated the last collection (think tar pits and environmental collapse) he adopted a more Dionysian approach, dubbing this season’s collection Glitter as a tribute to bombastic 70s transgression as a reaction against oppressive times. “I thought, ‘God, I’m getting really earnest,’” he explained backstage. “Instead of whining so much, it has to be about rejecting oppressive, turbulent times and defying it.” Models were dressed to weather the coming storm, with puffa jackets wrapped around bodies and opera cape volumes. “When I look at the collection, it’s very much about bundling up, it’s about wrapping up. It’s like getting ready for turbulence,” Owens declared.

But there was a darker side to the defiance. “The clothes were basically about fear, that’s what those are,” he said. “They’re about pretending and presenting yourselves as powerfully as we really want to be.” The music echoed the idea of coming danger, playing out the moment Delilah falls in love with Samson, though we know that she destroys him in the end. For Owens, the takeaway was this: we have to dance while we can, because who knows when a trigger-happy President (or a small dictatorship with a big chip on its shoulder) could cause the volcano we're standing on to erupt.