Rick Owens Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

Rick Owens Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

If you saw darkness in the image of the whirlpool on Rick Owens’s lenticular invite, you were right and wrong. In keeping with the last couple of seasons, Owens said he has human decline on his mind, but he’s not as fatalistic as that concept might suggest. Backstage he was talking about positivity and joy. “What if the whirlpool is just a portal, instead of a finality?” he asked.

Descending the spiral staircase of the Palais de Tokyo in the half-dark is its own kind of portal, and Owens’s new collection was dependably transporting. Like last season, he was interested in draping. Not your standard kind of draping, bien sûr. Here, linen tulle swathed the hips, that was normal enough; but buckram cloth, a material used in book binding, spanned the shoulders, conjuring a football player’s pads, and horsehair wrapped around the torso in eccentric volumes like a futuristic, high-tech life jacket. When Owens wasn’t draping, he was sending models out in tailored vests worn askew with heads poking out of armholes and the garments jutting off to the side.

It was odd and off-kilter yet bewitching. Credit for that goes partly to Nina Simone on the soundtrack (his notes said Owens listens to her every day), and partly to the robust-by-Owens’s-standards color palette, which included a plummy lavender, an acid yellow, and an old-fashioned shade of mauve. The evening looks at the end were fairly sensational: exuberantly swagged and draped long dresses topped by those worn-sideways vests, a spiral of fur planted below the neckline. Owens worked with Maison Lemarié, the Paris plumassier he collaborated with back when he was at Revillon, to create a trio of cloaks made from ostrich feathers knotted together end to end. They were fabulous. We’re with Owens. We’re on the side of joy.

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