Through a cloud of smoke came model after model, trotting at you in a scene that looked straight out of The Walking Dead. It was an urgent conveyor belt of bodies that appeared somewhere between apocalyptic and alien. Accompanying this swift onslaught were fireworks that shot off every 8 seconds or so, adding to the smokiness and exemplifying this otherworldly feel that Rick Owens aimed to emulate. Even the overcast weather that day matched so well to the show that it seemed like Owens ordered it himself.
The Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2024 collection is as theatrical as it is cutting edge. The spectacle of the event was there to aid and emphasize sartorial innovation and allow an exploration of culture and trends.
Where one designer would be focused on creating juxtaposition of one outfit with the next, Rick Owens is focused on creating paradox between his clothing and the world around it. The dystopian styles and apocalyptic aesthetic create a conversation around the consumption of luxury during a time of impending global crises. The designer invites you to focus on the parade of beautiful people and clothing while explosions go off and the setting gets foggier and foggier. What remains is a question of whether it is delusion to be focused on grandeur during a collapsing world, or is it just a response to fear?
The collection, named “Lido” after Owen’s home across Venice, explores this sentiment. It reflects Rick Owen's internal monologue, with show notes reading, "How one handles adversity is what defines one’s character."
Owen’s transports the viewer to a new time with his designs. Simultaneously primitive and futuristic, the bowtie-esc silhouettes read as both Victorian gothic and cataclysmic. There is a rawness in the clothing that makes the clothing simple enough to digest, but the exaggerated shapes create the uniqueness we can expect out of Owen’s work that makes it so recognizable.
The bow shaped silhouettes were a focus of the collection and allowed a feeling of cohesiveness throughout. By exaggerating shoulder pads and high waisted pants, an hourglass body figure became more concave. Combining these accentuated details things like highly cropped tops and extra-long trousers that went past the feet, Owens created an aesthetic completely unique to his show.
As one can come to expect from the designer, the collection is practically entirely black. Still there is some range to the black, creating depth through the monotone collection by using shiny leather, faded denim washes, or even straying so far as to use stone gray. Owen’s reminds us constantly that black is meant to be worn for every season.
For footwear Owen’s showcased medical inspired leg brace boots and high-top versions of his “brutalist concrete sandals”. These shoes walk a fine line between high-fashion and mocking parody and cement the show’s paradoxical theme of grit and grace. Interestingly, these are not the only shoes modeled after leg braces recently. MSCHF released their own boots that looked like leg casts in October of 2022.
Rick Owens’ Spring/Summer 2024 collection is as much a fashion show as it is a question of our relationship with luxury and consumption. It both critiques and celebrates the spectacle and chooses to challenge the extravagance from an inside out approach. If it is true that fashion is meant to reflect the time we are living in, then Rick Owens’ latest collection does that to an almost hyperbolic degree.