You did not want to be hungover for the Rick Owens show. Bright, bright white light filled the room, pinging off the shiny floor and sending individuals into a Pop-eye squint on entry. Once sat, one of the most intense music pieces - bass intense, not emotional intense - started pounding and building to a crescendo, getting louder and heavier. The Gabba-cum-fire alarm was sounding but no models were walking. The eerie stillness and aggressive beat put the viewer into a state of panicked trance. I could feel the audience’s collective heart rate increase, mine was in my throat.
This A/W 18 collection was based on the Greek myth of Sisyphus. A king fabled to have been eternally punished in hell for his self-aggrandising craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill every day, only for it to roll straight back down again. I can think of a deceitful presidential individual who could do with some repetitive punishment himself... perhaps Rick thought so too. But maybe Rick is looking at Sisyphus’ tale in a wider perspective, an acknowledgement of today’s constant struggles.
The music was a constant struggle. I could see some editors trying not to grimace. It was aggressive yet perfectly harmonious with the clothes. I could not think of a better track to fit the looks that followed - that certainly is not a negative.
A post-apocalyptic march ensued, with models striding in frigid felts - a rebuttal to previous softer textures and cycloidal shapes. This whole collection felt tougher; draping shapes feel stiffer and smarter, leg harnesses returned atop reimagined wide leg trousers and boots were thigh-high lace-ups with gummed terrain sole. The boots looked made for hiking up hills along the Styx, as too were the clip cables that passed through cut-outs that exposed nipple and washboard stomach.
Trainers - no longer Adidas - came with strips, subtle glitters and mild tufts of hairier fabric. This was also seen on black jumpers - the fabrics were sporadically sprouting from shoulders and arm, a delightful technique amongst the heavy footing and denim.
The front row was a time capsule of Rick Owens favourites, as individuals sat decked in full looks from the archive. Some are here in Paris just for Rick - a testament to Rick Owens’ phenomenal cult following. As models appeared painted white with dirty blonde tousles atop bald head - I thought of the front row next season and hoped to see this look reincarnated.
Parachute like materials, slithers of Perspex and patent, covetable footwear, treatments so special only Rick knows how - this collection was strong, forceful, brilliant. The cult of Rick Owens continues with another exceptional offering.