Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

The Vibe from the Tribe

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

The Vibe from the Tribe

Article excerpt

Rick Owens offered strong, long-line images with knobby fabrics and even insets of fur.

A line of fire raced across the backdrop and the techno music pounded as models with mesh helmets, long gray coats and floor- sweeping skirts stalked out at the Rick Owens show on Thursday.

If ever there is a fashion cult, this designer is it: the leader of a style that is noble, androgynous and compelling.

Literally, in the case of his protege Gareth Pugh, and figuratively in the lineup of other designers with a magnificent obsession for signature silhouettes and a passion for the dark side.

His show on the third day of Paris Fashion Week was strong in its long-line images, its focus on knobby fabrics and even insets of fur. It also embraced color: soft dawn pink or apricot for shearling jackets; and pattern, in the black, white and gray chessboard of tweed that closed the show.

It was a powerful rendition of hard and soft. But, in spite of the designer's backstage disclaimers that the mesh-covered faces were a "coquettish and beautiful" version of a veiled Marlene Dietrich in Hollywood, this show was super-tough chic.

"I was thinking of Brutalism -- the music very aggressive and the masks on women's faces, something violent," the designer said. "We elegantly suppress savage impulses that are speaking to intense emotions, universal and personal."

It was to the designer's credit that he wrapped that savagery in such luxurious protective clothing, with a sliver of sweetness, that made a very fine show.

Black petals descending like confetti on the runway at the start of Gareth Pugh's show suggested a more romantic vision from London's super-goth. In fact, the designer had softened his alien look, not by changing his pencil-sharp silhouettes too much, but by the use of the furry surfaces, malleable jersey, swaying fronds of fabric or spliced leather.

Gray, especially for the fur, even took the designer away from his beloved black to slate and asphalt.

The soft sculptures and surface embellishment enlarged the designer's range without compromising his identity. The whippet- thin shapes were even enlarged to present full skirts made from strands of leather. …

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