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The location of Rick Owens latest show is a reflection of the ongoing sense of global loss as the death toll from Covid-19 continues to rise. The designer’s new men’s collection was presented at Tempio Votivo, a shrine to the fallen soldiers of the two world wars. The collection, Owens tells BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks, was born out of “anger and darkness,” despite a fresh sense of optimism brought about by Joe Biden’s recent inauguration.
In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Owens and Blanks discuss the many references that informed the American designer’s new collection and why imperfection is central to his pursuit of creativity.
The show, although full of music and models, was without a live audience, a move that turned the presentation into “personal ritual,” Owens said. “We are doing it for ourselves… Some of the people [I’m working with] have been with me for 18 years. For us to be able to nurture and develop the collection to this point together, we’ve never fully done that before. It’s been this great bonding exercise.”
For Owens, lockdown life has not deviated far from his pre-pandemic routine. “I don’t participate or circulate in the world as much as most people do,” he said. But the social restrictions have reminded him that limitations can be central to creative ingenuity. “I like the idea of working within small boundaries,” he told Blanks. “I like the idea of doing the best with what you’ve got.”
References for Owens’ work include the Bible, the Rocky Horror Show and S&M, as well as his own imperfections and personal experience of manhood. “My men’s runway shows are always about men’s flaws, and about men’s worst urges because they’re autobiographical,” he said. “When I’m thinking about men, I’m thinking about my own experience. And my own experience is very critical.”