Those who came looking for the light-handed couture of Spring were in for a surprise. The couture workmanship was still there, but as for the lightwell, Owens hasn't retreated back to his proverbial crypt, but his models did look like they had swaggered through the apocalypse. An engaging sight it was, too. Their uniform consisted of a mink cap, a glorified cashmere sweat suit of layered tees and long shorts in olive drab or black, and leather or shearling legwarmers that laced at the back of the knee and belled out unzipped above towering wedge boots.
Having established that base, Owens zeroed in on the outerwear that he so loves to embellish. "I lifted so directly from Lee Bontecou that I'm telling everybody," he said backstage, referencing the American sculptor best known for her menacing fabric and steel constructions of the sixties. Indeed, some of the coats had funnels, à la Bontecou, that protruded several inches above the shoulders like wings and circled around the torso to drape from the hips. These might prove challenging even for Owens' most avant-garde devotees, but there were other pieces that will only broaden his appeal: Take the divine, weightless-looking minks that tied dramatically at the neck to drape in soft folds down the torso, or the edgier peplum styles in (Bontecou again) patchworks of cashmere, metallic leather, and faded denim. These will surely find an eager audience at the Paris transplant's first New York outpost, a Tribeca store at Hudson and Dominick that's scheduled to open this summer.