Rick Owens' Layer Mania

With a new store on New York’s Hudson Street, Rick Owens is deservedly the talk of the town. But the Paris-based designer has other victories to celebrate: his signature layered look, which had been slowly spreading, took on a life of its own during the spring/summer’09 shows in June.

Burberry designer Christopher Bailey went down the layering route for the quintessential British label’s Prorsum s/s ’09 collection—after all, he’s as well rehearsed in the importance of layering, as Britain is famous for its unpredictable weather. The collection has seemingly abandoned the famous trench in favor of mackintosh coats and went big on thin, long-hanging cardis, which Bailey layered with printed shirts and low cut t-shirts in shades of blue, gray and mustard yellow.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Lanvin had a go at making the layers look casual in a deliberately messy way. For this premeditated move, Lucas Ossendrijver layered creased shirts and extra-long t-shirts under jackets and knitwear. Similarly, Ann Demeulemeester’s safari theme—with tunics and waistcoats layered underneath suit jackets in beige and white—worked the casual look well. Her flowing shapes had a cooling effect on the traditionally older and weather-beaten models.

Takahiro Miyashita’s Number (N)ine also used lots of beige, but added red and blue for his layered effect. The silhouettes were cut short and with a tight fit, rather than the usual over-sizing. The collection was a true mishmash of influences and colors: ethnic prints teamed with ruffle shirts, hoodies layered under 19th-century velvet waistcoats and sleeveless tailored jackets over stripy shirts—in other words, something for everyone. At the Capsule tradeshow in New York, we witnessed a similar layered theme prescribed off the runway. Brands including Chronicles of Never and Alexandre Herchovitch were stacked in multiple thin, drippy layers—from singles to parkas—and all suggestively worn together.

Rick Owens, however, has been layering for years. The style has long been incorporated into his signature look of super long t-shirts, draped knits and distressed leather jackets, all done up in moody palettes. His s/s ’09 men’s collection, Strutter, once again plays around with this proportion, as Owens mixes sleek and transparent tops—almost as long as dresses—with oversized bottoms, super slim coats and a-symmetric biker jackets.

So, when—any time soon now—you find yourself at a Rick Owens cash desk, paying dearly for a chance to practice a bit of layering, don’t fight it: just go with the flow and just layer away.

For more information, see www.owenscorp.com.

—David Hellqvist

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