Rick Owens Men’s Spring 2021

Miles Socha

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Rick Owens says he’ll be back to runway bombast, fog and pyrotechnics as soon as it’s possible and appropriate. He thinks such displays are “essential” to fashion.

“I always roll my eyes at fashion videos because they’re just too controlled. There’s no element of risk,” he confessed during a Zoom call. (By contrast, he gave a shoutout to Olivier Rousteing for his live Balmain-sur-Seine barge loaded with music and archival couture, which he found charming.)

Owens’ contribution to the first online edition of Men’s Fashion Week is fly-on-the-wall footage of himself and model Tyrone Susman doing fittings in the designer’s Paris studio: two sinewy men with straggly hair completely comfortable in their own skin, drop-crotch pants and skimpy jersey tops. Everything was unscripted and captured on two fixed surveillance cameras, their banter often muffled by bass throb.

It was gripping to watch because the clothes were so good. While Owens reprised the Frankenstein shoulders from last season — not about power, but rather “defiance in the face of threat,” his show notes clarify — they seemed more approachable here, demarcated with contrasting leather shoulder patches, or lines of horizontal stitches. Other geometric shapes, inlaid into lapels or placed along the collarbone on sweaters, added energy and graphic zing.

High-waisted pants with a low crotch accentuated the top-heavy silhouette, which brought to mind Seventies glam rockers. Yet everything felt more approachable this season and occasionally looked familiar, at least for diehard fans and fashion fanatics.

Owens gave a new spin to the “membrane T-shirts” first unveiled for spring 2018, here with a plunging U-neckline. And the mesh tank tops reprise an element from his fall 2012 collection. “Bringing past ideas back is not the worst thing in the world,” he demurred.

There were plenty of new ideas though. Owens surprised with low-slung pants in country-club checks; filmy jackets and snug sweaters in surfer stripes, and some sparkly items in stretch denim covered in sequins. (Always refreshingly honest, Owens noted that the sequins were made from recycled plastic, which fueled debate in his studio “whether the use of recycled plastic glorifies using a toxic material that there are other options for, or finding a way to reuse something that already exists.”)

Owens also confessed that he mulled keeping spring 2021 under wraps and showing instead a new edit of his fall collection, which he had also fitted on Susman with the same wall-mounted cameras. He shifted gears at the 11th hour. “I realized, for better or worse, the world has gotten used to having previews. You can’t just take that away. So I am sticking with the regular system after all.”

Hallelujah for that, and fingers crossed for a blast of bombast come September.

Launch Gallery: Rick Owens Men's Spring 2021

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