Cool Factor

Points of inspiration run the gamut from monsters to mummies to Tristan and Isolde to the work of Francis Bacon. “He was more tortured than Picasso,” Owens says of the artist. “His paintings distorted people but you could still see a figure you recognised. It’s not playful; it’s gloomy.” If there is a glimmer of Hollywood screen glamour in Owen’s fur jackets and bias-cut dresses, it is of the faded variety. His is an aesthetic patched together from washed-out and second-hand materials, combining intricate cutting techniques of the 30s and the 40s with the nomadic and world-weary outlook of the young punks who hang around his neighbourhood. “My stuff looks kind of vintage,” Owens says, “but from what planet?” And while finding people skilled enough to do his production work is often a problem, it only makes him work around it and Scotch-tape something else together. Owens, for example, has circumnavigated the need for clumsy zippers by attaching knit pieces to bias pieces to create an evening gown that skims the body unencumbered by closures. “There are people on Hollywood Boulevard who devote their lives to shining the stars on the walk of fame and think they have an elevated purpose,” Owens says. “My elevated purpose is making gowns.”

Visionaire’s Fashion 2001: Designers of the New Avant-Garde by Stephen Gan

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