Back in February for his AW17 ‘glitter’ menswear show, Rick Owens looked to the 1970s as an inspiration. More specifically, the way that the glamour of the era, with its platform boots, wild make-up and outsider mentalities, acted as a form of protest to conservatism and political turmoil. With the show falling the day before the inauguration of Donald Trump, it was a timely rallying cry to reject the oppressive, to fight back with a Dionysian sense of vigour.
His AW17 women’s collection, shown yesterday in Paris, took the same name. But rather than protest, Owens was thinking more about “the glitter of civilisation”, and how, after resistance, we can pick ourselves up and move forward together, celebrating the beauty and grace of humanity rather than only railing against its tyrants.
Elements of the menswear collection – the sleeping bag-like puffas, for instance - were carried over, but overall the effect was more pagan. Owens stated that to him, the runway show is a “contemporary ceremony”, and there was something strongly ceremonial about the proceedings. Models wore improvised hats made out of the sleeves and collars of sweatshirts and t-shirts, while folds of fabric and painted skin recalled rituals. In earthy tones, they looked like a group who would gather on a hillside, a community. If today’s political era has showed us anything, it’s that times of great division can also be times of unity, after all.