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After a $4.4 million restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House recently reopened to the public just under the Hollywood sign in Barnsdall Art Park. Rick Owens all but blushes to admit he knew nothing about the place while he was growing up in California, but now he’s playing catch-up, and Wright’s Mayan-influenced architecture has prompted him to get in touch with his own Mexican roots. Models walked with gold- and silver-foiled faces in his show today, Mayan masks made flesh.
That was only one of the special effects that made this presentation so winning. Owens’ men’s show poked the bear with frontal nudity: That’s not the sort of thing you can do twice. Instead, Owens relied on sequins and frills for shock effect this time round. Of course, that is shocking only if your image of the designer is as the master of starkly avant-garde monumentalism. Something of that was still there in the substantial draping that defined the collection, but the sequins and “frills” of fur took Owens’ clothes somewhere new. Or maybe old. His love of old Hollywood has always infused his collections with a subtle—and often overlooked—glamour, like a limpid Steichen photograph of a silent movie star. Here, though, sequined sparkle and crystalline geometry (possibly Mayan-influenced) were inescapable as they combined to leaven the weight of the draping.
Owens has a particular soft spot for dusty biblical epics. Why, the very morning of his show, he was watching Cecil B. DeMille’s Sign of the Cross, a 1932 spectacular that featured the sequence, scandalous at the time, of Claudette Colbert bathing in “ass’ milk” (actually powdered milk that went bad so fast the smell made the actress ill). Know such details, and Owens’ unique aesthetic falls into place. But those floor-sweeping lengths, gathering dust like a prophet’s robes, were converted to aprons here, allowing for a leggy ease. And the lightness and glitter were practically glam rock by his definition. The last looks, paved with gold sequins, trailing gold fringes, were the most uplifting outfits Owens has ever shown. Given that he is the one designer who can legitimately utter the word “transcendence” without sounding like a pretentious prat, it was exhilarating to see his word made cloth.
Tim Blanks, via style.com