In a recent interview, actress Carey Mulligan complained about the fact that the characters she plays are often described as “strong women.” That label, she said, makes it seem as though strength in a woman is the exception, not the norm. And it rubs her the wrong way. It’s not uncommon to experience a similar frisson backstage at a fashion show, when a designer says that his (or her) collection pays tribute to “strong women”—the message is always well meant, but by setting up strength as a quality found only in a particular type of woman, it demeans the fairer sex as a whole. At his latest show,Rick Owens put paid to that way of thinking. Owens’ latest coup de théâtre wasn’t a tribute to strong women; it was a tribute to female strength. That’s a major distinction.
Chanteuse Eska, who performed last year with Owens’s wife, Michèle Lamy, at the Meltdown Festival in London, presided over this evening’s proceedings, singing the theme song from the film Exodus. As she sang, models exited in new Rick Owens looks—some of which, like the sleeveless dusters and crinkled anoraks, registered as atypically accessible silhouettes, while others, such as the short dresses collaged from canvas and leather, reiterated Owens’s signature sculptularity in a new, almost dreamlike tone. Periodically, the défilé was interrupted by an incredible sight: a woman, dressed by Owens, carrying another woman down the long length of the runway. Their bodies were yoked together; sometimes the women being carried hung upside down, legs slung over their partners’ shoulders. Other women were strapped on like backpacks.READ MORE