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Rick Owens AW15 Dazed backstage Sphinx
Backstage at Rick Owens AW15Photography Lea Colombo

Rick Owens AW15

‘Nudity is the most simple and primal gesture’: the designer reflects on his full-frontal fashion statement

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

Initial reaction:

“Sphinx”: Rick Owens cites a French movie set in a military submarine as a point of inspiration for a collection where a built-up pressure causes shapes to suddenly shift. An exclusive mix by Bames – the new trap duo from Texas – accompanied this pressure cooker journey, as we witnessed a gradual shift from strictly controlled uniforms to something quite undone. No pun intended.

Gender bending (not):

From buttoned up military peacoats to upturned knits and capes. Turning things upside down and warping them that way has a consequence that also warps our idea of gender sartorial boundaries – a subject which has been cropping up frequently this season at menswear. Let’s not lazily call this gender bending, as some would with one look at the long length tunics exposing bare everything underneath. By flipping these tried and tested garments, Owens has produced something that is truly conceivable as a menswear proposition. “With the menswear I’m always thinking about decorum. It’s about dignity. They don’t want to look like they’re trying too hard. I’m always thinking of that balance between control and self-discipline. And then on the hand, it could all fall apart. What I do is about control and collapse. And sometimes getting tempted to do one or the other.”

Not nude for nude’s sake: 

Hardy-ha-ha. There was a penis on the catwalk. Well, on a few of the silhouettes – and only if you were looking really intently. The headlines will tell you otherwise, but in all honesty, there wasn’t anything overt about Owens’s choice to use full frontal nudity on the catwalk. You caught little glimpses from under the curved hemlines and strategically placed in the toga-esque gowns, but nothing was in yer face. Did it feel obscene, considering this might have been a catwalk first? No. It certainly didn’t detract from the clothes, which sought to deconstruct in the most poetic fashion. When asked why he chose to expose his models, Owens said: “Nudity is the most simple and primal gesture – it packs a punch. It’s powerful. It’s a straight world now. It says something about being independent. Who else can really get away with this stuff? It’s a corporate world! This was our private moment.” Yes, there are many quips and puns to be made, and the show will surely make good media fodder – but the real story here is about freedom. These are clothes that would have looked strange with underwear underneath. So why not let it all hang out?