Rick Owens features large shoulders, tulle-clad fabrics and exotic textiles with vibrant, colourful moments in his Spring Summer 2023 Menswear Collection – shown at Paris Fashion Week. He draws inspiration from his travels to the Egyptian Temple of Edfu.
Rick Owens recognises the chaos steeped into the world’s current global predicament. As an artist, he translates this into a powerful performance for Paris Fashion Week. This spectacle is the debut of his Edfu collection. Throughout, Rick Owens envisions our world blazing alight.
Giant orbs, emblematic of a solar disk, are ablaze overhead. They sit atop a crane, at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris – where they drop abruptly into the water below.
Like a flaming sun arching across the sky, they crash to the ground again and again and again. The set is allusive of a “senseless destruction on repeat since the beginning of time.” Owens says.
In every way, Owens is making reference to a ubiquitous human fear of extinction. “I’m always trying to reassure myself that whatever is happening in the world right now – whatever conflict or crisis or discomfort – it’s happened before. And somehow goodness has always triumphed over evil, because otherwise, we wouldn’t be here now.”
Featuring less hardware, this season in place of larger-than-life silhouettes is a gentle nod to “all the righteousness and bigotry that create so much conflict in the world.”
Themes of Armageddon and apocalypse appear in the subtler details. On closer inspection, one may see a model’s eye sheathed with the black of a sclera lens. This gives an almost post-human atmosphere to the runway.
An Egyptian Influence
Inspiration for the collection manifests in Owens’ time spent in Edfu – a temple located on the west bank of the Nile. This spot honours Horus, who “represents the triumph of good over evil”, says the designer.
An overflow of silk chiffon and breathable tule tinged in a variety of shades hit the runway, a textile accustomed to desert climates. This, however, finds contrast thru interjections of leather – a tightening material which retains heat.
Egyptian culture and apocalyptic fashion come together most effectively in the three head-to-toe tulle looks. These flyproof robes, with face-covering hoods over silk charmeuse shirts trailing all the way to the floor, were slashed with colour. These were literal souvenirs of Owens’ journey to Egypt which left him wishing he had a mosquito net caftan. A mundane revelation proving somewhat intrinsically human.
Owens’ time in Egypt sees him utilise Egyptian cultural aesthetics; visuals which are repeatedly reborn across the millennia – since its inventors turned to dust.
Litmus-clad denim mirrors the exploding colour and the unnatural-looking iridescent metallic sheen of some scarab beetles. Another eye-catching addition to the instalment: python print, invoking the scales of the pirarucu fish. This is a by-product of Amazonian fish skin which Owens uses repeatedly. “The skins are then sold as a waste product generating income for indigenous communities” reports rain magazine.
The volumes, evidently in the shoulders, were on the rise once more. With Triangular cut shoulders, Owen’s has been doing since his Gethsemane collection coupled with the exaggerated hemming of the pants, travelling beyond the soles with a structured architecture of their own.
Notions of Chaos
Alterations to some of Rick Owens’ codes were founded in a flared-upper version of his platform boots. Technical wear was revealed in the loose-fitting shirts, trousers, and inverted jackets created with “grey ripstop nylon weaved with Dyneema”, a fiber said to be one of the strongest in world, something Owens finds reassurance in. Thus, strengthening the sentiments of endurance when continuously faced with the hardships of the world which punctuates the show.
Depth is founded in the constellation of familiar garments Owens has habituated us to. Pieces are touched with colour revealing true tones of rich yellows, blues, greens and pinks, even the monotone blacks and whites. This outburst of colour offers a visual texture to the installation beyond the flaming orbs of the set.
The haphazardness of the styling tends to the notions of chaos underscoring the show. With asymmetry, exposed seams and unbalanced cuts, it seems Owens is preparing us for a battle against adversity. In essence, the collection reminds us that in life we live amongst chaos. Also, that we strive to achieve serenity, over and over again. The voice, attitude and posture of Owens embodied in his collection is emblematic of something/someone that’s reached nirvana.
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