Rick Owens Men’s Spring 2022

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“Instead of a rave, it’s more of a love and gratitude festival,” Rick Owens said of his spring men’s show, staged on the Venice Lido beach amid pounding dub music, hand-carried fog machines and water jets spewing huge arcs toward the shore.

Despite that runway bombast, Owens is conflicted about the hedonistic impulses that are being unleashed as pandemic restrictions ease. “I feel like there is this voracious appetite to make up for the time that we lost,” he mused over FaceTime, squinting in the morning sun a few hours before the midday display. “I thought we were going to come out of this feeling a little bit more grateful and a little bit more humbled after experiencing a sense of powerlessness that we’ve never experienced before as a generation.”

His collection — all heroic, hole-punched tailoring, filmy tops and puddling pants, much of it in white — embraced hedonism, “but I didn’t want entitled hedonism. I wanted grateful hedonism,” Owens said, going on to describe an “elegant hippy” vibe exemplified by the members of Led Zeppelin in baggy bell-bottoms and open shirts.

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Owens said this will be the last of his COVID-19-era shows. He’s done four livestreamed events within a few blocks of his Lido island apartment, which is not far from his factory in Concordia sulla Secchia, Italy, and they’ve all been terrific.

Here he exalted tailoring, hacking away at sleeves and armholes, leaving little more than “decorative breastplates” in some looks. “It’s a way to enjoy tailoring in the summer,” he shrugged, turning around to show off the Frankenstein-shouldered coat dangling off his back. (He puts straps in all tailored items so they can be carried hands-free like a backpack.)

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His meticulously detailed press release notes that he used a number of specialty ateliers and suppliers, including silversmith Goossens and French feather workshop Maison Février, which made some of Josephine Baker’s famous performance plumes.

Is Owens gearing up to launch an haute couture collection? Nah, he said, explaining that his approach to fashion has always been to introduce flamboyance and glamor into ready-to-wear.

“I always wanted all of the most extreme runway possibilities to be possible for daytime,” he said. “All my career I’ve tried to gently introduce a little bit of excess into everyday wear. Like even with a T-shirt that’s a little bit longer and has a little bit more drape and that takes up a little bit more space. It has a little bit more pageantry to it. I mean, it can happen with T-shirts, it can happen with black shorts, it can happen with sneakers. I think my main motivation is to exoticize the mundane.”

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There was certainly nothing mundane about his lean coats, flowing robes and flaring pants licked with zippers. This season, he’s even introducing a personal fog machine, which can be tucked into a pocket on the side of his platform boots.

“A fog machine is a rock concert. It’s the incense in the church. So I love it,” he said. “It’s just a very simple device that has become a logo for me. Or if it hasn’t, I’m turning it into one.”

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