Rick Owens goes rock star for AW20

Inspired by Iggy Pop, Ziggy Stardust and his own performative behaviour, the collection was all strong shoulders, snakeskin and... cashmere?

by Osman Ahmed
17 January 2020, 11:15am

Rick Owens’ menswear show opened with Ziggy Stardust (with the body and hair of Iggy Pop) in a mink-grey cashmere catsuit. It summed up the mood of the collection, a cross between the concrete warmth and tactile luxuriousness of the Owens fashion universe and his own more ostentatious rock star sensibility. The collection that followed was big on ‘monstrous’ shoulders (massive, triangular ones), linear geometric graphics, spindly limbs, distorted leopard prints and touches of snakeskin and shearling in cornflower blue. But that was all supporting cast to the real star: grey cashmere -- draped asymmetrically around the body in multiple weights. Only Rick Owens could make something so basic and nondescript sing like Bowie.

In fact, Rick openly referenced Kansai Yamamoto, the Japanese designer who costumed David Bowie during the Spiders from Mars years (isn’t it great when designers vocally pay homage, rather than silently borrow?) as well as the artist Joseph Beuys. The combination of the two resulted in something great, as it always does chez Rick Owens, mainly because it was very Rick and not overly indebted to either of those artists. It helps that he has built a lexicon of his own that is instantly recognisable: those asymmetric portrait-collar leather jackets, the perpendicular shoulders, the plunging necklines, the extra-long (yet ultra slim) t-shirts, the tailcoat silhouette. All of those house classics were there, offered up in new light.


The seed for the collection was planted at Performa, the performance art biennial created by Roselee Goldberg in 2004 that has commissioned and featured works by artists including Marina Abramović, Mike Kelley, and Rashid Johnson. Rick’s partner, Michèle Lamy, performed at the event last year, inspiring him to meditate on the idea of performance and theatre. “At 58, I find myself, for better or worse, performing,” Rick wrote in his stream-of-consciousness show notes. (Sidenote: Rick Owens is almost 60?!) “The difference between behaviour and performance implies falseness and rehearsal in the latter. But maybe concentration on behaviour can be a bit passively dry? And performance a joyous contribution? Like competitive sport or orchestra conducting? Our Instagram generation makes refining behaviour [versus] indulging in performance a weird new balancing act.”

So this was more of a joyous kind of performance. And for all the grey cashmere (perhaps a metaphor for monotony) there were optimistic jolts of bright primary colours. The point is that it all neatly comes full circle. But most of all, it looks great and probably feels even better to wear. Exactly the kind of performance you should orchestrate for yourself.



Photography Mitchell Sams

Rick Owens
Marina Abramovic
michele lamy
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