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Rick Owens: The End of a Chapter

The designer’s last pandemic-era show at the Venice Lido was a brilliant outing, at once hedonistic and light, reports Angelo Flaccavento.
Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2022. Rick Owens.
Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2022. Rick Owens.

“Showing at the Lido for the last time is a bittersweet feeling,” said Rick Owens after a terrific outing on the beach, complete with portable fog machines and large hoses ejaculating water into the sea as Martin Parr-esque beachgoers looked on. “It’s been a special experience which I truly enjoyed. I am ready for the next chapter but I am not quite sure I want to be back to where we all were.”

Owens is a creature of habit; rite and repetition frame his evolving but focused dark-side aesthetic. This show was the closing chapter of a Venetian saga made up of four shows covering the whole cycle of the seasons. It started in September on the day the Hotel Excelsior closed for the season and ended today on the shore facing the recently reopened hotel. Having attended all the four shows and felt their family gathering vibe, it was a bittersweet moment. But at the same time I was elated. The baking sun burned the bitterness away. The collection did the rest.

This was a brilliant Rick Owens show: at once light (as light as it possibly gets in the designer’s dense and dark world) and hedonistic, frenetic, tripping. It opened in white and featured various shades of pale, as well as black and dashes of denim and orange. The verticality of the silhouette, with the giant flares, elongated tailoring and flowing tunics; the sheerness, the skin flashing and the silky sheen in peeling degrees was strong.

It takes a creator as skilled as Owens to mix abandon and thoughtfulness without being heavy on both sides. Maybe it was the white, maybe the sheerness and the exposed complexities of the tailoring, but despite the throbbing beats, the wrap-around glasses and the boots, there was a kind of serenity to the endeavour. “On the verge of turning sixty, I see hedonism in a different way,” conceded Owens.

There was also a new environmental responsibility at work, both in the small production and in the choice of organic fabrics and low-impact materials. But best of all, the fog machines used at the show will be sold in three sizes at stores, so you can conjure the world of Rick Owens whenever you want. “It’s nice to have your own personal halo, so that you can retreat in your room and party,” concluded Owens.

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The State of Fashion: Technology