Rick Owens: Garden of Gethsemane on an Adriatic jetty
Only Rick Owens could find this vision of Venice, a worn concrete military style jetty jutting out into a gray Adriatic. Which felt a thousand miles from the Renaissance majesty of Piazza San Marco, but was only a 20-minute Riva boat ride away.
Though it turned out to be a succinct setting for this collection, whose inspiration was the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prayed on the night before his crucifixion.
“We’ve all been living a tense period in history waiting for a resolution, be if catastrophic or rational, in a suspense that feels almost biblical in its drama,” explained Owens in his program notes. Though shot as a live video in Venice, the show was officially unveiled as part of Paris Fashion Week, where Owens has been a star show for some 15 years.
Even the beach was gray, then again it is on the Lido, as the designer’s fashion-forward priests, priestesses and their fellow celebrants gathered to stage their gloomy sacrament.
Whatever his inspiration, Owens can always be counted on for some inventive cutting and draping. This season included some remarkable sleeping-bag tunics; ginormous puffer capes, worthy of an after-hours cardinal, and lots of bold armature – from American football shoulder pads to Viking breastplates.
Or what Rick referred to as: “power-shoulder capes that turn the body into architectural bulldozers.”
Californian-born Owens had made Paris his home for over a decade, an exile at ease in that city’s obsession with fashion and fine art. Now he lives on Venice’s Lido, and works in a factory in nearby Concordia, where the ancient lagoon republic’s mournful winters and never-ending supply of churches has clearly been influencing his thinking.
Throughout, the masked designer kept checking the final looks on the beach, as helpers dressed the lanky models. Other took the long walk down the jetty in tubular knit dresses; tailored jackets in recycled plastic waste; deep purple metallic satin jumpsuits that looked welded onto the model; the odd turquoise metallic jockstrap to add a little color; and shredded catsuits worn with platform thigh-boots. A reference to rending and tearing apart one’s garments in the bible as an act of grief.
Owens' clothes are never for the faint-hearted; wearing his wildly dramatic outfits automatically suggests you are a member of some advanced thinking cult. Never more so than in this collection.
At the finale, standing like sentinels on the jetty, completing an obscure rite; smoke billowing out of one end, a drone shot celebrating the latest chapter in the contemporary myth that is the life of Rick Owens.
Who took no bow. None seemed needed.
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