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rick owens ss18 paris menswear scaffolding
Backstage at Rick Owens SS18 MenswearPhotography Lucie Rox

Models walk on sky high catwalk at Rick Owens

His message for the SS18 menswear show was simple: ‘I need a freak’

Thank God for Rick Owens. The designer staged a memorable show today in Paris, a beautiful response to what he called our “chaotic human condition”. To Owens, beauty is the opposite of death and that is what he wanted to convey through the collection. Here's what went down.


Usually showing in the cavernous, concrete basement of the Palais de Tokyo – his favourite building in Paris – this season, Rick Owens took guests outside. Above the water that forms the pool in the back courtyard, models circled an enormously tall, silver scaffolding structure, before descending a staircase and walking across the water. You had to be brave to be booked for this one… “It was really about exploring this building which is my favourite building in Paris. So being able to put all the scaffolding and being able to climb all over it. It was almost like I was physically able to touch every little piece of it,” said Owens backstage. He then explained that “Clothes are aspirational and putting them on the highest level, it makes them more heroic.”


You can't invite guests to sit outside in the 33-degree heat without giving them a little something to protect themselves. Black bucket hats, fans and Rick Owens branded water bottles were provided under the seats in carrier bags – like the Rick emergency kit for surviving summer as a goth.


Saying it was about “The human need to try to find order in wilderness”, the collection’s colours mainly consisted of black, white, grey and army green.There were elements of the utilitarian – models wore boxy bags that belted around the waist, as well as hiking boots with a “tractor-turbo tread”. Tailoring was, unsurprisingly, prominent, with super high waisted trousers and flowing flares. Some models wore deconstructed versions – like suit jackets missing the sleeves. “I’ve focused on the suit jacket as respectful uniform. As a symbol of civilisation. As elegant luggage. As personal aspirational architecture.” Said Owens. Another highlight? A series of brilliant vests that looked like lots of neck holes layered over each other.


Thumping over the speakers, the show’s soundtrack was “I Need a Freak” by Egyptian Lover, its opening line (“In these times of hate and pain we need a remedy to take us from the rain”) feeling pretty appropriate. Backstage, Owens explained his choice. “It reminds me of the 90s in LA, but…my translation of a freak is something rare, maybe sensational, maybe inspired, unusual. And I’m seeing this kind of normality in the world that’s being lionised and deified and personally that is my personally refrain in life, ‘I need a freak’. I need somebody to make effort and it needs to be rare and not banal and not prosaic or conventional.” When the line about needing a freak with long hair echoed over the speakers, you couldn't help but think of Rick.


While some designers might believe fashion and politics are separate, Owens definitely does not agree. “I’ve done the protest thing for a while and there was something not so cool about designers who are making expensive clothes when we don’t really need them to get all political and have a voice about what’s happening in the world,” he said after the show. His solution? “All I can do is just completely what I think are the most civilised things I can come up with.” We are inclined to agree that his runway shows do just that.