Rick Owens’ origin story is a classic: quiet, artistic young boy rebelling against a small, close-minded town’s restrictive norms. As he grows up, the boy rebels with increasingly lurid antics until he finally breaks free.

"Growing up, there was a certain set of rules or expectations about how to behave,," he once said. "That angered me, and later on I felt vengeful."

And thus for Fall/Winter 2024, Owens created the monsters that the people in Porterville, his childhood home, believed him to be.

Owens himself is obviously no monster — despite his anti-establishmentarian attitude and staggering success, the still-independent 62-year-old designer is as modest now as he was when his eponymous label first took off a decade ago. But his runway shows often play up his iconoclastic proclivities, as Owens is still restless to prove himself.

For instance, he could simply show the signature pieces that his ardent admirers consider timeless but Owens instead rips it all up and starts again each season.

Like, now that Owens’ inflated-looking sneakers have become popularized as status symbols, he’s showing actual inflatable footwear on the runway. Now that his cropped bombers and skin-tight tanks are palatable for a broad audience, he’s dressing models in sculptural wires and little else — according to the show notes, these are tangible representations of what he sees as omnipresent, normalized hostility. Despite all our rage, we are still rats in a cage.

That’s not to imply that Owens doesn’t make beautiful clothes, because he does (the hooded knit "PORTERVILLE" cape is as sumptuous a statement as anything else in Paris). It’s just that he knows the power of a strong image.

Hence why raw monochrome photographs of the scenes during the set-up for his FW24 presentation look less like a fashion show and more like screengrabs from E. Elias Merhige’s Begotten. It’s no accident that Owens’ retort to childhood antagonists is an eerie theater of harsh makeup and protean layers.

That’s the beauty of Owens’ particular brand of provocation: it has purpose, a point beyond empty anachronism. If only those saps from Porterville saw him now.

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