Rick Owen's Paris Fashion Week show was statement about anger and destruction

A burning pyre set the stage for Rick Owens’ PFW show. [Photo: Rex]
A burning pyre set the stage for Rick Owens’ PFW show. [Photo: Rex]

Fashion is an art form we often associate with glamour, beautiful aesthetics and saccharine femininity, but in some instances, fashion is used to provide commentary about the world we live in.

One designer who isn’t afraid to get political is Rick Owens, who showed his spring/summer 2019 show during Paris Fashion Week yesterday – and the outcome was typically stirring.

Held in Palais de Tokyo, Owen’s centre piece was a burning pyre, setting the ritualistic theme for the show. In his show notes, the designer referenced the Tower of Babel, an origin myth meant to explain why the world’s peoples speak different languages, and Tatlin’s Tower, a design by the early-20th-century Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin for a structure that was never built. Make of those reference what you will.

The show felt like a strange toss-up between the old and new: on one part, it evoked images of witches being burnt at the stake, and on the other hand, we saw models storm out looking like warriors in an apocalyptic future.

[Photo: Rex]
[Photo: Rex]

For fashion blogger Susie Bubble, who attended the show, Owens was making a statement about anger.

Designers don’t often channel anger as an emotion into collections… everything is lovely, chic, beautiful, exotic and flowering… But Rick Owens raged and why shouldn’t he [sic],” the British blogger commented on Instagram.

Models stormed the runway in sculpted black leather, dresses with undone draping, and skirts with seemingly off-cuts hanging loose.

Scaffolding-like headpieces, futuristic sunglasses and flaming torches paraded down the runway, while some models wore sickly white faces and greased down hair.

[Photo: Rex]
[Photo: Rex]

“As the heat of his giant pyre at Palais de Tokyo grew, so did the ire in my mind over, well… everything!,” Bubble commented. “Every news piece becoming more stomach-churningly sordid by the day.

“The shadows of the flames cast on the building also recalled horrors of Grenfell, and yes for some inexplicable reason, I had tears as well as smoke in my eyes.”

Who said fashion is frivolous, eh?

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