The models at the Rick Owens show looked like glamorous aliens, as if creatures from some science fiction movie had wandered into the designer's atelier. Some of the women in his fall 2019 show looked deathly pale. Others had disfiguring protrusions growing from their cheek or running parallel to their nose. Their facial peculiarities marked them as oddballs, weirdos, pariahs.
But their demeanor was confident. Their gait was sure. And their clothes were so cool. The jackets with the high, rounded shoulders shielded them like stunningly tailored armor. Their bright red leather pants exuded fiery disregard for protocol. And the dresses and skirts in shades of cherry, plum and raspberry were cut with a slouchy, sexy, curvaceousness that recalled the wilting beauty of a flower in the last moments of full, glorious bloom.
Owens paid homage to Larry LeGaspi, the man behind the sexy, sleazy, otherworldly look of 1970s performers such as KISS and Labelle. His work, Owens said in his show notes, inspired him as a young man growing up in California who felt like an outsider and who turned to style as a tool toward self-identity. He found kinship with the cool outcasts in the ghoulish makeup and the rock god coats and platform boots as well as with the provocative, self-assured black women who were the antithesis of Motown charm school decorum.