Rick Owens added Balls of Flame to his Spring 2023 menswear show – WWD

While traffic jams and the busy calendar of men’s shows in Paris have made people forget the pandemic period, when everyone had sworn to slow down the fashion system, the heat that is gripping this European men’s season reminds the least to everyone global warming.

Rick Owens added to the high temperatures during his midday outdoor exhibition by having a crane lift three flaming orbs, then deposit them in a fountain in the center of the forecourt of the Palais de Tokyo.

Dunk us too, please, Rick, we’re boiling.

Instead, he presented a collection defined by sheer fabrics, billowing volumes, crisp nylons and his unmistakable mark of industrial-strength cool.

Behind the scenes, the ingenious designer recounted the war in Ukraine, and the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard libel slander, which he strove to avoid, compelled him to come up with some “order and of discipline” as a balm to these disturbing events. His press notes stated it thus: “I wanted simplicity, but I always wanted exaggerated shapes to gently tease all the righteousness and bigotry that creates so much conflict in the world.”

Cue the broad-shouldered jackets the designer has worn religiously in recent years; the rigid and oversized camp shirts, and the generous hooded dresses inspired by a recent trip to Egypt, modeled by couturier Ludovic de Saint Sernin. But there were also elongated silhouettes: comfortable leather tops, some with the iridescent sheen of insect wings, worn over flared trousers that twisted and trailed under those Frankenstein platform boots that became a hit in retail trade.

Was it the scorching sun and those fireballs that robbed the show of its usual intensity? Here, surprise and drama came from Owens’ use of colors such as hot pink, bright yellow and purple, and a bold plaid that he had faded into hazy checks.

Maybe Owens wanted to reassure more than defy. He said he certainly felt optimistic when he visited the Valley of the Kings opposite Luxor.

“It puts everything into perspective. When you look at these temples that were built by one civilization, seized and altered by another civilization, then unearthed by another civilization, it’s reassuring somewhere, things pass. There is conflict; there is violence; there is seizure. But something happens later,” he reflected. “I mean, I hate to be that fatalistic, but I’ve always been super fatalistic. It all works out in the end. All the while, good has always triumphed over evil, just enough to keep us alive.

Who knew Owens had a practical side too? Harassed by flies during his stay in Egypt, he decided he needed a tulle kaftan with a hood. So he made them and put them in the show.

About Allen L. Campbell

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