Rick Owens' Biblical FW21 Collection

Rick Owens' Biblical FW21 Collection

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Rick Owens' Biblical FW21 Collection

The "Gethsemane" womenswear collection captures the collective tension of the coronavirus pandemic.

The "Gethsemane" womenswear collection captures the collective tension of the coronavirus pandemic.

Text: Siena Ballotta Garman

Like all of us, Californian designer Rick Owens has been feeling the pressure. As we reach the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, it often feels like we've been holding our breath for just as long, waiting for some inevitable conclusion. As Owens says, "WE’VE ALL BEEN LIVING A TENSE PERIOD IN HISTORY WAITING FOR A RESOLUTION, BE IT CATASTROPHIC OR RATIONAL, IN A SUSPENSE THAT FEELS ALMOST BIBLICAL IN ITS DRAMA." That biblical drama finds expression in his new womenswear collection, named "Gethsemane" after the garden where Christ prayed the night before his crucifixion. This theme carries over from his menswear collection, which debuted in January.

The livestreamed fashion show took place on the Lido, a barrier island in Italy's Venetian Lagoon. There's something brutalist and chilling about the concrete runway, which is unsurprising given Owens' frequently dark and otherwordly aesthetic. Outwear is emphasized, and many models wear coats that billow behind them in the wind on the beach.

These dramatic and sometimes deconstructed silhouettes usually layer on top of leather bodysuits, which Owens describes as "SELF-CONTAINED AND SEALED BODY COVERINGS LIKE AN UPHOLSTERED GEAR SHIFT KNOB." Owens also articulates his reason for featuring broad shoulders that "TURN THE BODY INTO ARCHITECTURAL BULLDOZERS."

These hypermasculine power silhouettes are his commentary on the dangers of conservatism and aggression, particularly as these traits manifested in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. But there are also moments of playfulness in the form of shimmering sequins and thongs, winkingly layered on top of other clothing.

All of the looks include masks as a vote for the kind of communal responsibility that is needed to respond to a global crisis. Slashes, tears, and patchworks on the clothing are a biblical symbol for rage, which Owens reminds us "IS NOT EXCLUSIVELY MALE." This collection makes that clear, channeling the collective rage of an uncertain time into an apocalyptic and imaginative womenswear line.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Rick Owens

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