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Rick Owens Autumn/Winter 2024 Menswear
Rick Owens Autumn/Winter 2024 menswearCourtesy of Rick Owens

Rick Owens’ New Menswear Collection Takes Us Home

Presented in his self-declared ‘compound’ in Paris, Rick Owens drew on his community for a powerful, elegant and dystopian proposition for Autumn/Winter 2024

Lead ImageRick Owens Autumn/Winter 2024 menswearCourtesy of Rick Owens

For his latest menswear show, Rick Owens got close-up and personal. He eschewed his habitual fashion week home of the art deco Palais de Tokyo, and its pyrotechnical displays that have included plumes of pigment and fluorescent tubes strapped to models’ craniums, and instead brought his audience together in his home and business base in the Place du Palais Bourbon, formerly the French Socialist Party headquarters where Owens has been based for a couple of decades. A few hundred, at a push, could fit in the space, which isn’t exactly homely but is certainly extraordinary, part concrete Brutalism, part that very particular brand of cream-puff whirled white-painted stucco the French do better than anyone else. And of course, it’s punctuated by Owens’ extraordinary, near-surrealist furniture – like a black plywood chair with a stag’s antler in place of a back. The notion, Owens said, was “a respectful mood in observance of the barbaric times through which we are living.” In other words, it’s not the time to make a noise.

The atmosphere managed to only heighten the experience of seeing Owens’ Autumn/Winter 2024 menswear collection – which did make noise, but in the best possible way. Owens’ clothes felt significant, important, brave and new. He invited his favourite fellow creatives to work alongside him: a BDSM practitioner from Paris made rubber jackets and trousers, a London creative crafted the incredible inflatable rubber pull-on boots. Owens even worked with a designer, Leo Prothman, who he saw had cobbled together his own version of Owens’ platform ‘Kiss’ boots. Here, they were legitimised – which, incidentally, is radical but not entirely unique. Miuccia Prada once found someone ripping off her bags in Italy in the 1970s, and decided they were so good she wanted him to work on the business with her. The man was Patrizio Bertelli, and they married in 1978.

The notion behind Owens’ collaborations was community – which was also the point in bringing us all together, in one small place, to share and experience. The collection was named – and often sloganed – Porterville. It’s the small Californian city Owens grew up in, where he felt excluded and isolated. He’s not only built his own chosen family since, within the enclaves of his self-declared ‘compound’ in Paris, but has defined his own entirely unique idea and ideals of beauty for the 21st century. And that was what he decided to show, undiluted, for Autumn/Winter 2024.

This was a powerful show – all the more impactful for the fact that Owens’ hyper-inflated silhouettes and jacked-up boots and inhuman-looking models were striding through not some dystopian landscape but the rather nice rooms of his gracious abode. There is a John Colapinto New Yorker profile of Owens from 2008, the title of which – “Elegant Monsters” – often comes to mind when watching his shows, so perfect is it a description of Owens’ distinct aesthetic fusion. That his monsters often break out into sweet smiles backstage, behind their bug-eye contact lenses and white fright make-up, says a lot. Ditto the fact that Owens may sometimes appear mildly terrifying but is, in fact, one of the nicest, most humble, polite and indeed elegant individuals you will ever have the privilege to encounter.

Now, back to the clothes. This was Owens in overdrive, on the finest form of his career. He proposed silhouettes that were arresting, alarming, resolutely new. The tactility of his fabrics – combed alpacas, cashmeres, slithery leather, all that rubber – urged you to grab out. That his models had trouble perambulating the hallways of his home, so gargantuan were the clothes Owens wrapped them in, was kind of part of the fun – as if Owens’ own imagination was too vast to be contained.

These were the most extreme clothes we are likely to see – and yet there was something in the strangeness of their proportions that hinted at the idea that fashion may absorb them, other designers following Owens’ lead to shift our wider notion of attractiveness. Granted, pneumatic calf-inflating boots are a tough sell – but would it be so weird to see them reflected in a puffed-out moon-boot revival across a wider menswear sphere? Owens’ washed-out leathers, his pre-pilled cashmeres and oversized puffer jackets have become near-ubiquitous over the past two decades, so much so that they are no longer radical propositions on his rails but instead form the commercial core of his offering. Is it so far-fetched that our eyes may become accustomed to this season’s extremities too?

Here’s hoping. Because Owens’ all-inclusive, all-encompassing vision of beauty is something that makes the world a decidedly better place. And I think there’s no higher praise you can lavish on any creative endeavour than that.