“A show on the beach: isn’t it fun?” said a radiant Rick Owens minutes before his latest livestream, beamed once again from the Lido in Venice. This time he chose the beach in front of his house, where the designer typically spends his summers: it made for an elemental backdrop for a collection that was largely about glamour in the face of adversity, a very Owensian trope, now charged with a further sense of climax and liberation.
Since the pandemic started and shows with physical audiences became largely impossible in the West, Rick Owens has created his own personal language: no big productions, outdoor locations closer to home, impromptu catwalks with open backstage areas of five racks on a sidewalk — all broadcasted to the world via video but ultimately homemade both by and for his team. I have personally attended all of them and have been struck by the sense of warmth and bonding, by the genuine team spirit that pervades them. It certainly makes a difference when the very same people who have worked on the collection for months dress the models. It’s like creation comes full circle.
The pandemic also allowed Owens to further explore and hone elements of his own expansive fashion lexicon. The early days of glamour and grunge — or ‘glunge’ — are gone, but that spirit somehow remained today in a vision of broken glamour, of Luisa Casati-worthy couture trains rendered in angular shapes, in capes and trains that looked both solemn and undone, in the humongous shoulders and draped bodices, in the models’ heels sinking in the sand.
Post-show, Owens talked of heroism, super-heroism and anger, but also about fun and liberation. Those lurid turquoise sequins certainly came with a disco aftertaste. The collection, just like his menswear in January, was entitled GETHSEMANE, after the garden where Christ prayed the night before being crucified. A moment of reckoning called for action: shapes that twisted and turned, empowering the body in solemn and sculptural ways. The vision, on the beach, was potent, but also decadent: a bolt of energy with lingering drama; a reminder of fashion’s ability to regenerate.