It was a pulsating scene at Rick Owens’s latest womenswear presentation in Paris on Thursday, as models wielded handheld, gold-plated fog machines down the runway like post-apocalyptic thuribles, dispersing scented clouds through the Palais de Tokyo. But wrapped up in all that brutalist alchemy was something novel: the fragrance anointing the room, the show notes revealed, is from an upcoming collaboration between the designer and the cerebral Australian skincare-beauty brand Aesop. The two companies, according to an Aesop press release, found kinship in their steadfast sensibilities: “What might first appear a contradiction is soon revealed as a story of shared philosophies—a desire for serenity, a dedication to simplicity and an appreciation of considerate, nonconformist design.”
But this “meeting of uncompromising minds” is not without a precedent of admiration: Anecdotally, Rick has been candid about his love for Aesop products for years. Back in 2013, the designer told Harper’s Bazaar he prefers “Aesop for shampoos and moisturizers because it’s the only packaging I like. I would use lard if it came in a pretty bottle.” In 2017, the New York Times revealed that Owens “emits the delicious smell of Aesop face cream,” and a 2021 Vogue photoshoot of his Venice home exhibited a bathroom full of telltale amber dispensers. Ever wash your hands at a Rick Owens showroom? There’s a good bet you walked away smelling especially earthy and/or herbaceous.
“I am not sure if it was my body responding positively to the alchemy of the unguents they produce or my head responding to the quiet and gentle aesthetics of their ethos as a company, but Aesop’s balms represented a soothing mood that I wanted to continue seamlessly throughout my home life and my travel life,” said Owens, per the Aesop press release.
In turn, the collaboration centers on a travel kit containing pocket-sized versions of the designer’s favorite Aesop products—coriander seed body cleanser, Resolute hydrating body balm, and the classic shampoo and conditioner—that arrives swaddled in a cotton jersey wrap featuring an Owens-coded grosgrain strip, for $190. On Instagram, Owens detailed his intention behind the wrap, conjuring the threadbare T-shirts seen on Sid Vicious and in Satyajit Ray’s films, the draped jersey dresses of French couturier Madame Grès, and the fabric clinging to the goddess Nike in the Hellenistic statue Winged Victory of Samothrace, which graces the top of the staircase at the Louvre. He added, in his native caps lock, “A GARLAND OF THIN COTTON JERSEY IS MY VERSION OF A LAUREL WREATH OR OF A SATIN GIFT BOW.”