Rick Owens Spring 2023

If the gridlock traffic and jam-packed schedule at the Paris men’s shows made everyone forget about the pandemic period, when everyone vowed to slow down the fashion system, the heat gripping this European men’s season is at least reminding everyone about global warming.

Rick Owens added to high temperatures at his midday, outdoor display by having a crane hoist, one by one, three flaming orbs, and then drop them into a fountain at the centre of the Palais de Tokyo parvis.

Dunk us, too, please, Rick, we’re boiling.

Instead, he trotted out a collection defined by transparent fabrics, billowing volumes, crisp nylons and his inimitable brand of industrial-strength cool.

Backstage, the brainy designer said the war in Ukraine, and the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation mudslinging, which he tried his best to avoid, compelled him to propose some “order and discipline” as a balm to these disturbing events. His press notes stated it this way: “I wanted simplicity, but I still wanted exaggerated shapes to gently tease all the righteousness and bigotry that creates so much conflict in the world.”

Cue the broad-shouldered jackets the designer has been wearing religiously in recent years; the stiff and oversize camp shirts, and the generous hooded robes inspired by a recent trip to Egypt, one modeled by fashion designer Ludovic de Saint Sernin. But there were also elongated silhouettes: snug leather tops, some with the iridescent sheen of insect wings, worn over flaring pants that twisted and dragged under those platform Frankenstein boots that have become a sleeper hit at retail.

Was it the scorching sun, and those balls of flame, that drained the show of its usual pulse-pounding intensity? Here, the surprise and drama came from Owens’ use of colors such as hot pink, bright yellow and purple, and a bold plaid he had blurred into a foggy check.

Perhaps Owens wanted to reassure more than challenge. He said he certainly felt sanguine when he visited the Valley of Kings opposite Luxor.

“It kind of puts everything into perspective. When you’re looking at those temples that have been built by one civilization, seized and altered by another civilization, then unearthed by another civilization, it’s reassuring somehow, Things pass. There’s conflict; there is violence; there is seizing. But something happens later,” he mused. “I mean, I hate to be so fatalistic, but I always have been super fatalistic. It all works out in the end. Over all this time, good has always triumphed over evil — just enough to keep us alive.”

Who knew Owens has a practical side, too? Pestered by flies while in Egypt, he told himself he needed a tulle kaftan with a hood. So he made them and put them in the show.

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