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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Is It About Rick?

When you have a clearly defined aesthetic, you tend to discover certain designers first. When I came across Rick Owens' clothes at Atelier in New York, I was immediately intrigued by his deceptively simple leather jackets and heavenly tees. I liked the silhouette - extra long and skinny sleeves that could be bunched up, the hug-my-body snugness that also did not aim to cut off your circulation, the way Dior Homme's offerings do, the soft ribbed inserts on sleeves that carefully relaxed the rugged look of the leather.

In these clothes I could see a designer who grew up in a certain environment without growing out of it. Yes, the words goth, rock, punk sprung up to my head, but without the word "stylized." "This is not a designer who is cashing in on an image," I thought, "this is someone who had a chance to manifest his experience, and take it to a more mature and elegant dimension." The garments were distinctly his, and therefore not stereotypical like stylized clothes are.

So, I sat back and enjoyed Rick's clothes season after season, without seeing a single mention in the American press. I was used to this - neither Raf Simons, nor Ann Demeulemeester, nor Dirk Schonberger have ever gotten much attention here. Why would Rick? He's on the fringes, and I'm on the fringes - a flaneur that observes with a mix of amusement and slight irritation the huffing-and-puffing "It" rat-race of the fashion world.

And then THEY noticed. Hmm. Maybe they ran out of stuff to write about? Or maybe they are just late, as so often they are (it took Cathy Horyn what - 10 years? - to "discover" Raf Simons?). But the articles kept rolling in. First, the reverent Ms. Horyn started mentioning Rick on her blog, here and there. It is still disorienting to see "Galliano" and "Owens" in the same sentence. Then comes the article from Guy Trebay.

So, what makes Rick special, I wonder?
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