Starting with his last men's show, Rick Owens resolved to move away from the theatrical presentations that had come to dominate Rickworld. A change of heart brought a change of venue. Psychodrama surrendered to intimacy. The setting sun gilded the Eiffel Tower through the huge windows of the Théâtre National de Chaillot today while the extended Owens "family" walked in a collection of clothes as simple and—Lord, save us—sweet as the designer has ever shown.
It was too banal to define the collection as commercial. Way beyond that, it was about connection. Rick's "relatives" were the women who have played a part in his life over the years—as friends, as employees, as models. Many of them now have their own families. Owens underlined a sense of continuity by having them walk more than once in the show wearing the same outfit. Confusing for the audience, until they grasped that this was a real circle of real lives.
The night before the show, Owens sent a reassuring message to his models, something along the lines of, "Try and enjoy the serene benevolence of presenting a story of love." As he said today, "I'm getting all New Agey in my own, abstract, do-it-yourself way." Maybe that's why the soundtrack was a muted variant on the abrasive thud that usually propels an Owens show forward. But the shift in sensibility also shaped the clothes as a benevolent embrace—cocooning capes; quilting; soft, plush fabrics; poncho tops; and those comfy onesies that cropped up in the men's collection. It's an extraordinary turn of events to think of a Rick Owens show promoting family values, but here they were: love, protection, communication. And, overall: the tribe, the shared sense of unity that has been integral to the Owens ethos over the years.
It was that tribal idea that added spine to the show. Every tribe has warriors. Here, they wore croc-printed shifts, motocross leather pants, and armlets like superpower bracelets. Kirsten Owen's headgear might have been an air-conditioning duct…or a high priestess' ceremonial topper. It was a peculiar vision of matriarchy, but it illuminated the future world that the great-grandchildren of the Owens family will populate.