When Rick Owens first encountered Estonian hardcore band Winny Puhh, he claims he felt "an instant jolt of recognition." Scary, sleazy, over the top: They had it all for Owens. "And Estonian is such an alien language that when it's shrieked at you by a guy in a wolf mask, it becomes major."
Owens' show today was called Vicious, like the song by Lou Reed. (Reed, incidentally, put Shazam on the designer's iPhone. Now there's a connection.) The lyric runs on, "You hit me with a flower." That was the spirit Owens wanted—"cheerful viciousness, viciousness with humor. I felt like doing something ludicrous and fun." Cue Winny Puhh: one screaming Saruman, three well-muscled werewolves in wrestling singlets thrashing the life out of traditional instruments (an electrified lute?), and two drummers suspended vertically on a spinning platform, defying gravity, not to mention reason. Last season's soundtrack was Wagner, but this was Sturm und Drang of an entirely different nature. At show's end, when the werewolves were whisked skyward on wires to revolve lifelessly above the crowd, the performance reached a sacrificial, ritualistic pinnacle that surely thrilled Owens to his dark, pagan core as much as it left his audience stumbling into the daylight in a what tha? daze.
The clothes? They were a blur, deliberately so—if the models had walked any faster they'd have been running. Urgent movement and fierce athleticism were the driving forces of the collection. Long-sleeve tees, close to the body, zipped even closer, over shorts sheer diagonals, perforations, and mesh tanks revealing the flesh beneath leather tanks flying away into long fringe, fringed leather belts everything moving. The solid athletic footwear worked equally well for flight or fight. Rick's retailers were loving those.
The savage hardcore sound complemented a collection that felt like Owens revisiting the mythical mosh pit of his L.A. days, maybe reclaiming the culture that shaped him in the same way that Raf Simons did last night. "No," Owens countered before the show. "Not reclaiming, duplicating. I worshipped that period, but I always felt excluded, not good enough. This is my revenge my vicious revenge. I was always a fan, but I was never this great. This is what I wanted to be."