The Faun in the Concrete Jungle: Rick Owens Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015



Paris-based American designer Rick Owens is one of the most distinctive designers of the modern era, and since founding his label in 1994 has created a radical avant-garde aesthetic. Initially described by critics as a mix of glamour and grunge, the label evolved into a fully formed universe which defies such glib descriptors. Owens’s line is characterized by his unique silhouettes, distinctive cutting and treatments and an atmosphere of dark elegance that is effortless and unaffected.

Rick Owens catwalk shows have, in recent years, been controversial—the pinnacle of which came with the Spring/Summer 2014 show featuring fierce “stepper” dancers as models. The Rick Owens ready-to-wear collection for Spring/Summer 2015 was a more nuanced but no less dynamic affair, a vision of the ultra feminine combined with an architectural industrial sensibility.

One of the principal influences of the collection was American architect Marcel Breuer, whose exposed concrete buildings utilized curved forms … rather, the distinctive square blocks that characterize the Brutalist aesthetic movement constructions. Using Breuer’s work as a touchstone, Owens envisioned using delicate tulle in a structural context, the result of which was a compelling combination of transparency and solidity. Pallid concrete tones of tan, gray and green recalled a city leached of color. The appearance of the lithe models in ghostly white makeup did nothing to dissipate the cold power of the show’s atmosphere.

Dresses often referenced the same triangular tabard-style cut, with intricate under layers of tulle jutting away from the body ending in pointed shapes. As the show progressed, the basic tabard was rendered increasingly complex with embellishments of felted wool, leather and tubular reinforcements. Footwear was a notable aspect, as always with Owens’ shows, as saw-toothed, soled sandals referenced a fusion of Japanese and Grecian aesthetics.

This was a show that continued to demonstrate Rick Owens’s ability to subvert sartorial feminine codes, and rarely has architecturally-inspired clothing seemed as flowing and ethereal as this collection—nor has the dark master ever seemed to channel such a romantic sensibility.
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