Yesterday afternoon, under drizzly skies in Palais de Tokyo’s open-air space, Rick Owens put on a spectacle of the highest order. The Californian designer has been showing in the museum’s gargantuan courtyard for years, setting towers on fire, globes aflame, jet streams of water sky high, and letting fog machines run wild. For his Spring/Summer 2024 menswear show, Owens took the extravaganza to the next level; to the beats of an earth-shaking industrial score, towering fireworks pelted out folds of smoke yellow, blue, and red, showering an unwitting audience in debris and ash.
In his show notes, Owens said this was about “considering joy a moral obligation”. His previous collections have had strong political tilts, referencing topics like the ongoing war in Ukraine or Trump’s anti-Mexican sentiment (in response, Owens explored his Mexican heritage) – but this season, the designer was simply embracing a feeling, a mood. “With our world conditions under increasing threat, jubilance seems like the wrong note but maybe it’s the only correct moral response?” he wrote. “Beyond being nice to each other, isn’t personal joy what we are put on earth to do?”
Owens – commonly nicknamed “fashion’s lord of darkness” – dispels the common misconception that goths do not know how to have fun. An army of models, flanked by the Palais de Tokyo’s crumbling nude statues, dramatic stone friezes and soaring pillars, descended the steps in rippling black ensembles with cinched waists, ultra-long sleeves, pointy shoulders, and clumpy boots like the medical kind people wear to heal a broken foot. Proposing a “grim, determined elegance”, his striking, vampiric set of models looked both ancient and futuristic at the same time, as if straight out of a sci-fi production.