Rick Owens is akin to an abstract painter in the sense that his work plays hard to get bet when it finally ‘clicks’, it exposes you to an enlightening, poetic world of wonder, one which holds fashion in such high regard it could easily be perceived as lofty. He’s a designer’s designer, a purveyor of avant-garde fashion which is later distilled into commercialist outerwear which is displayed in stores worldwide. His Fall 2018 show was a return to the idea of violence which permeated his collections for so long before he charted positive territory, exploring the serenity of the world, a mere few seasons ago—which arrived in the advent of President Donald Trump which undoubtedly uprooted global discourse and his presence was felt during the primary season and a year ago, when he was officially inaugurated.
‘Sisyphus’ it was entitled. According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a greedy king of Corinth punished for his conniving nature. His sentencing was to push an immense stone uphill, only for it to career down the hill over and over. Albert Camus claims the myth explores the conflict between what we want from the universe and what we find in the universe.
Mr. Owens told Charlie Porter of the FT backstage, “I’m kind of pissed.” There was a palpable sense of anger. Nineties terror techno attacked the audiences’ eardrums, permeating the show space with a distinctive unease and discomfort. Clothing was slashed, sides were removed from tunics, pant legs jutted leftward; silhouettes were ravaged by an animalistic rage, an uncontainable force seemingly. It was brilliantly visceral and wholly original.
(Some models had faces painted in a serene yet imposing shade of off-white. It reminded one of the description in Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poem Lucina Schynning in Silence of the Nicht: “plague shadowing pale faces with clay the disease of the moon gone astray.”)
It wasn’t a collection spearheaded by avant-garde propositions, however. Mr. Owens made room for sumptuous outwear which will undoubtedly make it to department stores in the coming months. There was a certain tranquility to those looks that contrasted with the terror techno overhead and the drama of the avant-garde. It also referred to the designer’s responsiveness to the needs of his customer who will buy Rick Owens not only because it is a unique entity unto itself, earmarked for its peculiar tendencies, but for its beautiful tailoring.
At Rick Owens you are constantly affirmed that the future of menswear has been with us all along. It’s unapologetically difference and although it may not be what we thought we wanted from the universe, it’s what we find in the universe. Surely, there are worse things to be found.