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Backstage at Rick Owens paris pfw
Backstage at Rick Owens Menswear AW18Photography Arnaud Lafeuillade

Rick Owens turns a bad mood into a good collection

Featuring a thumping terror techno soundtrack

Rick Owens’ shows are always a highlight of Paris Fashion Week, and today’s was no exception. Sending a troupe of models storming through the halls of the Palais de Tokyo to a soundtrack of 90s ‘terror techno’, the collection featured slashed tunics, full-length overcoats draped in chains and a new take on the radical designer’s signature biker boot. Here’s everything you need to know.

THE SHOW WAS IN A DIFFERENT SPACE IN THE PALAIS DE TOKYO

The Palais de Tokyo is Owens’ favourite building in Paris, but rather than outside by the pools or down in the depths of the basement, today’s show took place on the ground floor. Guests sat on narrow metal benches that snaked around the vast room, and the lights were turned up to the max; bouncing off the polished concrete floors and the clinical white walls.

AFTER A COUPLE OF SEASONS OF OPTIMISM, RICK’S IN A BAD MOOD FOR AW18

The deafening soundtrack that boomed around the space came courtesy of DJ Speedlap and was the kind of music Owens listens to when he needs to thrash out pent-up frustration, apparently. “I’ve been in kind of a pissed off mood for the last six months or so, I don’t know if it’s just me or whether it’s a more universal thing,” he said post-show, “I’m like, am I turning into some sort of misanthrope that’s only focusing on the world’s flaws? I don’t want to be that person, I want to be someone that exudes serenity! This show is kind of a safety valve release, I’m just trying to get it all out creatively,” he said.

THE COLLECTION WAS INSPIRED BY SISYPHUS

Following on from ‘Glitter’, ‘Dirt, ‘Walrus and ‘Mastodon, this season’s collection was entitled ‘Sisyphus’. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a King that was punished by Zeus to eternally roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down again; a comment from Owens’ on how draining it is to watch unhealthy cycles repeat themselves. While some might take that as a statement on the breakneck speed the fashion industry is operating at, the designer was quick to dispel the idea backstage. “It’s not the speed at all, I love that – it gives me a sense of purpose. It’s just that when I meet resistance, I get frustrated,” he said. Though Owens’ clothes were created in anger this season, he loved the process of creating them as much as ever.

THE SHOES WERE SOMETHING NEW

Owens’ collaboration with adidas ended last year, and the designer seemingly wanted to try something new this season. His signature biker boots were updated with the addition of thick, semi-transparent soles, some of which trailed the material’s loose fibres behind them – a detail that was mirrored in a number of the collection’s coats and jackets.

THE COLLECTION EXPLORED PROPORTION AND CUT-OUTS

The anger and frustration that Owens described post-show was immediately evident in the collection itself. Cotton and cashmere tunics were slashed and slit so much that they hung from the models’ bodies in swathes, while long overcoats were rendered in plastic shearling fabrics, the texture of which appeared to have been aggressively painted by hand. Details included chainlinks and flags that were draped over the models’ shoulders, demonstrating the dichotomy of unity and division that was at the heart of the collection.

SOME MODELS HAD THEIR FACES PAINTED WHITE

As part of a look created by stylist and longtime collaborator Duffy, many of the models that stomped around the Palais’ hall had their faces painted with a chalky white paint, as a shock of poker-straight hair that emerged from their foreheads. It was a pretty strong look – but then we wouldn’t expect anything less from Rick.