"Men have a more narrow field of vision, a focus; they are goal-oriented. How do I get what I want? The big difference between me and Michèle [Lamy] is that I wonder how to get from point A to point B right now," Rick Owens analyzed backstage after his show when asked about the spool of hair creating a tunnel vision for the models. With both eyes closed, only the mind remains, a cyclops that knows no rest until every last aspect of a subject has been considered. By titling his collection “Cyclops,” he referenced his design process, his inner eye that would turn inwards during inception. "When designing for women, I am in awe at the mystery. With men, I automatically become self-loathing, think about what a d*ck I am," he cheerfully added. "It's about a man wanting to be heroic and the struggle of getting there, falling short and forgiving himself. And picking himself up."
Falling short to Rick Owens' level? One should be so lucky.
The physical starting point of his summer 2016 was the M-65 field jacket, issued in the early days of the Vietnam War by the US Military and which became not only a symbol of military dignity but also, once torn apart, an anti-war statement. From his own admission, Owens fetishized his obsession with the subject, tearing the jackets apart and rebuilding them. Cut from leather tooled to look aged, or from dryer fabrics, they took on longer proportions, lengthening, fraying, almost as if decaying under the eye. Some were as prim and smart as we'd ever seen in his hands. Others fell to the knee, hiding what lay beneath, blurring the uniform's gender cast. Palest celadon, burnt orange, a pop of bright red showed the designer in fine form. A fleshy, translucent variant that looked like drumskin piqued interest. "It's a transparent leather that I wish I invented," Owens confessed. "It was brought to me, and they were evasive, opaque about the process." Then the silhouettes became more complex, drapes and volumes building from accumulation. Long sweaters became even longer with their doppelgangers hanging down the front. These inspired thoughts of rebellion, of clashes.
Rick Owens has long walked a path of individuality and empowerment, gathering around him a tribe of fiercely independent thinkers and dreamers, picking at the seams of constructs – gender being only one of them – and by extension, at the very society that erected these codes as law. Hence the military jacket, once a symbol of order, becomes a standing order to the self. "A uniform is about making a man look as dignified as possible in his role." Fashion remains the ultimate, and intimate, arena for protest, a point further driven home by the model behaving badly, who unfurled an unsanctioned banner as he approached the photographers, later inciting the ire of the usually even-tempered designer.