RICK OWENS FALL 2021 FASHION SHOW

As at his men’s show in January, staged the day after the U.S. inauguration, today he was talking about the fear, anxiety, and rage triggered by the “the forces that almost won the American election.” He said, “The menace of that is still there, and that disturbs me and it’s something to be really vigilant about.”

By Balthazar Malevolent

RICK OWENS FALL 2021 FASHION SHOW

Rick Owens was just waking up from a nap an hour and a half ahead of showtime. You can do that when your show is on the beach across the street from your house. Fall 2021 is season three on the Venice Lido for Owens and his small Italian team, four if you include the men’s video he made last July. “Doing these shows without an audience is becoming a kind of private ceremony because we’re sort of doing it for ourselves,” he said on a FaceTime call. “There’s a sweetness to it.”

Sweetness is not the word that came to mind watching the livestream of the show on his website. Cinematic, otherworldly, and superheroic are more like it. Owens’s models looked like a fabulous troop of aliens whose spaceship wrecked in the fog of the Lido, and rather than send up a distress signal they decided to make the best of it by throwing a disco couture rave.

As at his men’s show in January, staged the day after the U.S. inauguration, today he was talking about the fear, anxiety, and rage triggered by the “the forces that almost won the American election.” He said, “The menace of that is still there, and that disturbs me and it’s something to be really vigilant about.” He won’t hear any arguments on that subject from this writer. But to focus on his politics and his pronouncements risks eliding the obvious: that Owens is a designer of cinematic, otherworldly, and yes, superheroic vision. When Chloé Zhao gets her second Marvel movie, she should hire him.

Owens has channeled his disturbance into a collection that synthesizes the comfortwear of the pandemic—bodysuits, knits, the ubiquitous puffer—with the grandeur of haute couture. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more glamorous gown this season than this show’s closing look, a fully sequined ivory hourglass stunner with a sculptural, asymmetric neckline and a single sleeve that was worn with a black gauntlet and matching mask.

Equally cool were the couture-ish things he did with the more would-be-plebeian attire: the puffer capes that looked like protective carapaces, the coats with power shoulders that, as he so poetically put it in his notes, “turned the body into an architectural bulldozer,” the shredded denim twisted and draped into a sinuous platform-scraping dress. Every rave needs sequins. Owens’s sequins came via over-the-shoulder thongs worn with cashmere bodysuits.

On the subject of underthings, the pentagram briefs from the January men’s show reappeared here wrapped around evening clutches, the implication being that these alien females had handled the “unhinged male aggression” that those briefs signified. Is that reading too much into things? Probably, but that’s absolutely part of the thrill of a Rick show. Here’s what Owens had to say about it: “During times of strife, you gotta step up.”

Rick Owens Fall 2021 Fashion Show
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