One can hardly say that about much of fashion these days. 

By Balthazar Malevolent


Rick Owens is without a doubt the men's show we miss the most after watching shows in Paris all these years.

"Phlegethon" is the name given to the new collection by Owens – it is "one of the rivers in the inferno mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy, not quite the core of hell but on the way there." The benefit of this simple two-panel broadcast, like seeing a black and white multi-station surveillance camera instead of a live stage display, showing a fitting Owens conducted at the Paris studio with the model Tyrone Dylan Susman is that the main action is on the clothes without any possible distraction, like the colored smoke from his Spring 2019 show at the Palais de Tokyo. There's something of a surprise like a suspense film with something about to happen, moments before the calm is interrupted, with this fixed camera shooting in its entirety with little editing as the designer and the model strolling around the concrete studio with clothing racks lined up along the bare walls. The model poses for a 'polaroid' (well digitally anyway) when the right combination of clothes comprising an ensemble is arrived at.

As a matter of tradition with each Owens show, there's always something new to fashion but also combined with something familiar – or in industry parlance mixing an original concept with a signature garment to construct from one collection to the next by safeguarding the traditional to promote acceptance of the latest.

Here, a black short sleeve wide shoulder panel vest is combined with a deep v-neck acru long tee shirt and short trousers, or the very wide two-button shouldered jacket is worn with another iteration of the classic tee shirt and ankle trousers and the now popular platform heels introduced a few seasons back. "My runway shoulder freak out last fall wasn't about power, it was about defiance – defiance in the face of threat. The shoulders vanish on coats and jackets with the sleeves ripped off in this spring show, leaving a raw armhole with traces of white linings as a riot corsage," Owens said of the new design here and there with panels of white leather on the front side of jackets. Last season's defiance didn't completely disappear, but molded into softer yet exaggerated looks – now they're less dangerous and less threatening as sharp tailored shapes take hold and maybe the next time as our eyes adjust to new shapes and proportions will become more familiar and normal.

The overall style is more linear with a bronze cropped jacket and low-slung trouser, side-striped lean sweater over high-waisted short trousers, and either high heels or high top sneakers as footwear. Black tailored jackets contain traces of white stitched lines in wool, in double-faced leather or in stretch denim sown with pailettes made from recycled plastics. Elements from a previous collection appear as a lesson in evolution to add context to these new clothes – membrane fabrics created for the Spring 2018 Dirt collection are now being used to create new swimwear, and knitwear and shoulder patches from Larry Legaspi's Fall 2019 collection are being reused in the leather jackets and coats range.

A plain black asymmetrical long top, black short pants and high plastic heels – an incomplete look caught by the camera as the model waited for a jacket – often expressed the quintessential Owens signature style with all its nuances.

Rick Owens SS21 Phlegethon Mens.Rick Owens SS21 Phlegethon Mens.Rick Owens SS21 Phlegethon Mens.Rick Owens SS21 Phlegethon Mens.Rick Owens SS21 Phlegethon Mens.Rick Owens SS21 Phlegethon Mens.
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