There was a distinctly dystopian feel to Rick Owens’ SS18 collection, an uneasy atmosphere that was generated before the show had even begun. Something about the towering scaffolding catwalk against the serene backdrop of the Palais de Tokyo struck a chord with the landscapes illustrated in the Mad Max chronicles. It was a structure designed to impose upon the walls of a building that’s sole purpose, in the words of the designer himself, is to pose as a “temple of beauty”. Based on Owens’ appreciation of Land Art, the dramatic construction – an intricate web of gantries and staircases – was built to represent the collection’s central focus of structure and order.
Matching the heights of the designer’s catwalk and the theme of structure was Owens’ statement trouser, a high-waisted, cinched in silhouette that came tapered at the ankle or left to flow into floor-brushing flares. The corresponding jacket, what Owens’ has defined as the “symbol of civilisation”, took a suitably elevated position above the collection’s high-rise waistband, sometimes also exhibiting defiling design quirks including missing sleeves and contrasting panels.
Survival of the Fittest
It wasn’t just the collection’s title, Dirt, that hinted to life in the wilderness. Whether it was the lack of a shirt or the hampering addition of a boxy side bag, there was certainly an element of primitive survival incorporated into each look. That isn’t to say, however, that the collection was rough or dishevelled: it was more a feeling of living in the wilderness and triumphing. Sheer panels of gauze-like fabric covered splits, bag straps resembled bullet belts, and shoes commanded the catwalk with the help of biker-style tractor soles.