Rick Owens’ Fall 2019 womenswear collection presented a spectacle not soon to be forgotten. Owens morphed jarring beauty with discomfort, and space age futurism with timeless wearability. This outstanding collection paid tribute to Larry LeGaspi, an important influence to Rick Owens, known for his space age futuristic wardrobe looks. Other collaborations included some almost Grecian draped evening gowns featuring archival prints by Mariano Fortuny, and show-stopping makeup looks designed by then-18 year old Instagram star Salvia.
Rick Owens loves a look that challenges the status quo, and he delighted pointed out that body modifications are taking the place of tattoos as today’s form of shocking, rebellious beauty. Salvia, known for her surrealistic aesthetic that utilizes both prosthetics and photoshop, designed several beauty elements that highlighted the collection with fleshy tubes running from the nose to the forehead, “bald” looking eyes sculpted with heavy eyeshadow contouring and white eyeliner, and extended foreheads resembling popular beauty looks from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In fact, Salvia herself cites women in Renaissance artwork as an inspiration, alongside of flowers and deep sea creatures. Take a look at a painting such as “Portrait of a Woman and Child” by Francesco Bacchiacca and you can see a strong resemblance in the highly sculpted eye socket. Other distinct features designed by Salvia included split upper lips, small hornlike protrusions along temples and cheekbones, and blacked out eyes. While somewhat disturbing, the effect was nonetheless beautiful and incredibly striking.
Owens looked to the 70’s for silhouette inspiration and elongated the form with both raised shoulders and extreme platform heeled boots. Curved shoulders inspired by one of Rick Owens and Larry LeGaspi’s favorite space films, Metropolis, graced blazers or were even more exaggerated with flanges of silver pony fur. Long, slinky dresses with open backs and sculptural draping were split in the front and flapped dramatically down the runway. Beautifully draped jersey gowns fabricated from the archival Fortuny prints paid double homage to the brand with twisted ropes of fabric inspired by the way the signature micro pleated Fortuny Delphos gowns were stored to preserve their texture.
Rick Owens cited Charles James as the inspiration for his puffer jackets, cheekily claiming he was “ripping off” the magnificent swirling cocoon coat James designed in 1937, though you can be sure Owens’ version looks nothing like a copy. Owens’ puffer coats feature black and silver dégradé, which is a variation of ombre gently blending the border of two colors. The black and silver color palette references some of LeGaspi’s most iconic work for the band KISS. Also referencing the KISS costumes were the studded snap crotch body suits, which somehow elegantly and subtly referenced the codpiece elements LeGaspi designed for their costumes.
Once again Rick Owens has done what few can do so well, pulling together references and research into an incredibly dramatic collection that is at it’s roots comprised of highly wearable clothing. While most of Rick Owens’ fans won’t be sporting prosthetics, we can imagine the elegant evening dresses and long coats will get a lot of wear.