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Georgie’s Review: Rick Owens ‘Phlegethon’

Sat 11 Jul

You might be bored of hearing the phrase ‘It’s not the same as a show’, but two days into Paris Fashion Week and it seems everyone is already missing the tangible hustle and bustle that a fashion show gives. This was particularly felt with Rick Owens’ slot on the digital schedule. Owens’ shows are enveloping, engaging, gargantuan events with clouds of coloured smoke, live performances, pyrotechnics and more fantastical scenes often taking place. For his S/S 21 show, Owens’ pared things back with a behind-the-scenes look at the styling and casting of a collection. Dressing model Tyrone Dylan Susman through the collections, Owens buzzes about the room, shimmying a top to the left, adding a belt, nodding in approval. Through a split screen, we’re invited to peep into this personal moment. Shot in black and white for the majority, the film appears as if we are watching security tapes from the night before. This may not be as monolithic as a usual Rick Owens show at the Palais de Tokyo but it’s beautifully intimate nonetheless.

Entitled, ‘Phlegethon’ – the infernal river from ancient Greek mythology – the collection feels a continuation of the narratives Owens has been exploring for the past three seasons or so, themes of rebellion, of power, of action. There’s a strong energy in this particular collection too. Perhaps it’s the bold thigh-high platforms and glam-rock undertones, or the hypnotic use of just one model, or even the touches of past collections imbued throughout. All resiliently powerful. Seemingly less black this season, the collection veered towards earthier shades of red clay, browns and even soft pinks. There were yellow toned checks and spray-painted stripes, there’s sharp broad shoulders and collarless popper-buttoned jackets and there were handsome wide-leg trousers – the latter a shift from the previous season’s tight legged looks (although some did appear here). This was good, this was gloriously good, a collection that even from flat lookbook images would make your heart race. While we can agree a show setting would have been the cherry on this collection’s cake, watching Rick Owens adjust, chat and style such a wonderful collection is fulfilling in itself.