Rick Owens’ S/S15 tunic tops, hiked shorts and trailing geometric shawls were stitched with elaborate tapestries: yarn drawings inspired by a series of works by the model Benoit, who drew these for Michèle Lamy (Owen’s wife) as a thank you for her kind treatment while he was living in their house. Owens found the drawings and decided to translate them into his cult of urban warriors.
The story doesn’t stop there. The collection was primarily inspired by the explicit Diaghilev tale, L'Après-Midi d'un Faune (Afternoon of a Faun). The 1912 ballet choregraphed by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky spins an erotic fable which climaxes in a male faun ejaculating onstage following a high-charged dance with a group of female nymphs. The ballet itself stems from a poem by French poet Stéphane Mallarmé and was originally accompanied by costumes by Leon Bakst, which also flicker within Owen's collection.
For Owen’s primitive tale, models were chalked in body paint ranging from wraithlike white faces to pastel lilac, and sheathed in wax canvas and poplin. Tunics, tent-tops and the prize piece — an oversized double breasted jacket in honour of French interior designer, Jean-Michel Frank. "I like to think he was in the audience watching Najinsky hump that scarf," Owens writes in his show release. The collection has a tender, ethereal quality, punctuated with Owen’s menacing wink.
"The collection has a tender, ethereal quality, punctuated with Owen’s menacing wink"
Perhaps Vaslav Nijinsky and Rick Owens are not so different. Nijinsky is cited as one of the greatest dancers and creatives of his time, known for the intensity of his characterisations. Like Owens, Nijinksky left his audiences in shock and awe. The beauty of Rick Owen’s tapestries are that you can take from them what you like — be it the erogenous tale of a wayward faun, or the endearing charm of Benoit, as Michèle Lamy helped him fix his broken wings.
Text by Mhairi Graham