After the A/W 18 menswear show’s aggressively intense gabber music, I must admit I was a little afraid of what might appear or sound for the womenswear show. I needn't have worried - for A/W 18, Rick Owens had taken a decidedly more mellow path.
Baubles, Bangles & Beads, a waltz-like song from the 1953 musical Kismet, filled the Palais de Tokyo sending a soothing wash of calm over the audience. I could feel shoulders drop and chests exhale. 'My heart goes sing-sing-a-ling wearing baubles, bangles and beads,' so the song goes, and baubles is certainly an appropriate term for what followed. Bandeau necklines were met with oversized origami folds on the chest, shoulders and arms appeared as if inflated or stuffed, and fanny-packs were bulbous and squoval, banging as models walked.
The lyrics aren’t necessarily why Owens chose such a song. The song is indicative of a dress-up dress-me seduction, and the art of seduction was key for Owens' A/W 18 collection. You perhaps wouldn't think it by looking at the globular shapes and physical distortion, but Owens was looking to the inexplicit aura of seduction that women carry, the way our clothes communicate with the onlooker. A pertinent topic given the current cultural climate surrounding women.
To some extent, Owens' choice to introduce colour could be seen as a communicative tool, an alluring eye-catcher, particularly as Owens has never used such brights before. Previous seasons have seen various beiges, perhaps even a navy, but never such vivid colours as there were on offer here. The palette was strikingly similar to the Kismet film scene in which Baubles, Bangles & Beads plays; dusky pinkish tones, mauve-like browns and a sharp jewelled teal. The blue shades appeared on flashes of the cuff and collar on check - if you can believe Rick brought out a check! - oversized and open-zip hooded coats.
Amongst the beguiling pretzels of padding, there were more persuasive coats, outerwear that followed a more buyer-friendly silhouette; single-breasted jackets with studded triangular patterns, check flannel jackets and raw-edged coats with white brackets on the shoulder. Tactility too was another art of seduction - the fleece and the flouncing hairs, the glittery tinsel and the silken textures, were both inviting and alien.
The white painted faces of the menswear show returned on a few at today's womenswear show, alien also, these faces felt almost ominous. To reference the communicative powers of women and their clothes at such an agitated time is important, inspiring and daunting. Here, Owens offered a genuinely mesmerising collection that is true to the codes and cult of Rick, but with bespeckles of unexpected change that evoked thought and desire.