Rick Owens is one of the few non-Japanese designers we make an exception for here on Tokyo Telephone, but I am a huge fan, and it is hard to deny that more people wear Rick Owens menswear in a literal transition from the catwalk to the street in Tokyo than anywhere else in the world. This is a task made significantly easier this season by virtue of a surprisingly conservative lower half of the silhouette compared to the skirts of Naska and the clog/leg-warmer combo of Island. Instead we find a revisited jean design with elastic leg insets providing an accesible entry point, and larger a-line outers chasing away the usually ultra tight fit.
If this is starting to sound a bit pedestrian, then you are missing out on the narrative of the show, in this case a musing on idealized masculinity. Named “Plinth” the collection focused on celebrated images of masculinity through both bold military references, but also romanticized foppish styling, however, where the collection took on the quintessential awkwardness of Owens was by blurring those references with a crude neanderthal version of masculinity.
This was realised very literally in the exaggerated fur gloves and bulky boots which gave the appearance of primates stomping the catwalk – the larger arms this season recalling those of apes and the boots looked as if fur was trying to escape from beneath the straps and laces.
In this way the collection explored the idea of the raw animal nature of masculinity, but also the cultured swagger that we have developed. To my mind at least, the former being the plinth itself, and the latter being the statue that we place upon it.
On a more mundane note Rick Owens seemed keen to blend technical fabrics with his organic ones this season compared to the deliberate juxtaposition he has looked to in the past. This season his shiny leathers and even furs could almost be mistaken for artificial fabrics at times, and the fur felt all the more accessible for it (even if the price won’t be).
There was also a distinct lack of buttons and a sparring use of zips this time round, being replaced with velcro and leather ties instead which complemented the less precise voluminous feel to his outers nicely.
As ever Rick Owens continues his quest to re-invent men’s footwear, this time introducing fantastically chunky soles to the already bulbous boots. This had the effect of forcing his models to stamp their way down the runway, but also thematically tied in with the idea of placing the wearer on a raised plinth.
Personally, the primitive masculinity of the collection grew on me in time, and even the pony hair boots started looking enticing – the soles looking satisfyingly like Japanese geta.
On the other hand the primate-esque volume around the middle of the body (subtly above, and obviously below) is a bit of a tricky one to digest – but what is a good collection without a challenge or two?
As ever, as the show went on the core concept became more and more futuristic, ending in a significantly tighter and conventional silhouette.
You can see a video of the show in the “video” section of the Rick Owens homepage, in which you can really see the “evolution of man” theme expanded on in the flow of the show.