Rick Owens named his collection Faun, after L'Après-Midi d'un Faune, Nijinsky's scandalous debut for the Ballets Russes in 1912, which is widely considered to be the birth of modern dance. It wasn't hard to see why Owens was inspired. The paganism of Nijinsky's performance versus the sophistication and artifice of high culture is the kind of contrast the designer thrives on in his own work. "How to keep a balance is the challenge," he said this morning.
The evolution of Owens' work has been very clear of late: focusing inward, from the step teams two seasons ago, to his own team last Fall, to one longtime member of that team this Spring. Benoit B. was having a difficult time until Owens' wife, Michèle, took him under her wing. He drew for her to show his gratitude, and those drawings became the heart of this collection, embroidered on canvas tunics in an extravagantly graphic way that was new for Owens.
But the soul was Nijinsky's faun, chasing his nymph, losing her, then masturbating on the scarf she drops. Small wonder Belle Epoque Paris was horrified. The trailing scarf was a recurring motif. Owens compared the cross-body straps from which jackets were slung to garlands. The diaper-like constructs (a not entirely successful revision of shorts) could dress the urban faun. And the Adidas Springblades had the fleetness of woodland feet. The varied palette—also new for the designer—was a faded version of the colors Léon Bakst used in his designs for the Ballets Russes.
To complete his ideal vision of the coming together of some of his modernist heroes, Owens made a double-breasted coat that he imagined would have been worn by interior designer—and Owens fave—Jean-Michel Frank. "I like to think he was in the audience watching Nijinsky hump that scarf," he wrote in his show notes. If there was something oddly romantic about such a pipe dream, it dovetailed neatly with the emotional undertow of this collection.