PARIS – “Some designers embellish everything and that’s important, but I’m more of a neo-realist,” Rick Owens was in a reflective mood ahead of his Thursday show. “I have to see the magnificence and horror of the world because that is the human condition and we all have to deal with it. So I think it’s a more realistic gesture.”
The collection he was going to show off was certainly great. “I went to a sequin orgy,” Owens confessed. There were coils around the models’ torsos, rows and rows of them on puffy jackets and tunics, strewn in handfuls by cloaks of frayed denim. There were tight knit goddess dresses with snake trains and satin duchesse shrouds rising into points that framed the face eeriely, ready for close-ups. It might have been the most mutant version of Old Hollywood glamor that Owens had ever offered, but it was glamorous nonetheless.
As for the horror, His presence was more abstract. On the anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s ill-fated invasion of Ukraine, Owens faced the challenge of presenting his fashion collection. Every day we see the dignity of man in the face of adversity. He felt his response had to be, as he put it, “respectfully and responsibly.” He is usually attracted to chaos and neglect. Now he felt that a more appropriate response would be something more formal, even serious, however unpleasant that might sound. We’ve never seen hair and makeup styled this way by Owens. Some of Duffy’s stylist hair ornaments were structured to resemble the hairstyles of the princess from Alta Moda Roma. This may have seemed counterintuitive when the world is closer to a nuclear apocalypse than ever since Owens began putting on shows that actually seemed to predict the apocalypse. His answer? “I did post-apocalypse, now it’s the other way around. I want something much more polished, more thoughtful.” I see. When there is chaos, order means rebellion.
Perhaps this was one of the reasons why his shows meticulously described the origin and treatment of his fabrics, with a strong emphasis on responsibility. Petra, his granddaughter, was backstage in the arms of her mother Scarlet. Maybe that’s what is needed these days to remind the designer of the impact of his business. (Neighborhood kids did the same for Lagerfeld and Armani.) “There were certainly times when I felt darker,” admitted Owens, “but now I see a certain level of acceptance in myself. I find a different kind of peace.” It showed in the clothes, in the new spirit of formality and structure. There is certainty in these imaginings and it was something else that trumpeted the edges of this collection. Just look at the lucite heels that have become a cultural hallmark of the global collective. They now have “duvet padding”.
Formalism was also the keynote of Daniel Roseberry’s first ready-to-wear show for Schiaparelli. When he offered home his earliest couture sweets, I was on my hind legs wondering how they might perform in ready-to-wear. Make the world surreal with Schiap! Of course, the collection could not be as extreme as couture. Roseberry stressed that this new collection is less about fantasy and more about the Schiap woman here and now. Still, he did a pretty good job recreating the flamboyant spirit of his Schiap to a wider ready-to-wear platform. He claimed it had a lot to do with the fact that he went back to the very foundation of the house, Elsa Schiaparelli herself. “The way she dressed, the turbans, the way we styled the bijoux, it all came from 1930s photography,” Roseberry said. “It was almost like a hedge for me.” He also said he was obsessed with the new documentary series, Kingdom of Dreams, which explored the fashion industry in the 1990s, when creativity could drive commerce, not the other way around, which now dominates. “This show really recharged me.”
And there was a third driving force: customers who insist on something exotic, valuable, unique. For example, a woman who wanted a down jacket that wasn’t as bulky as the Moncler. Roseberry offered her a huge black satin feather-filled parka with big gold buttons on the nipples that tell the world you’re wearing SCHIAP! The denim jacket and jeans (and me, a commoner, was the denim I most wanted to see) were fastened with anatomical gold buttons. Something as simple as a double-breasted cashmere coat could be transformed with a dozen of these fasteners. And the sleeves of the black chenille velvet coat were embroidered with gold beads.
After all, it was extravagance that shaped Schiap’s finished garments. It wasn’t just the glitter of gold. There were faux astrakhan and snow leopard jackets, quilted stretch satin skirts, and intense hand-painted motifs on coats and jackets (will be stenciled to enlarge at manufacturing facilities in Italy). The keyhole motif, the emblem of Schiap, appeared at the heart of the draped black jersey dress. The black leather suit has been trimmed with a brass ruler, another key motif for the house. The culmination of the whole exercise could have been Irina Shayk’s champagne silk satin quilt. “The great thing is that we don’t really have a price cap, so we can go really far,” said Roseberry. This coat had already made him understand.