Rick Owens Wants to Dress You for the Apocalypse

Rick Owens Wants to Dress You for the Apocalypse


Rick Owens Wants to Dress You for the Apocalypse

Spring/Summer 2021 collection out now.

Spring/Summer 2021 collection out now.

Photography: Valerio Mezzanotti

Text: Juliana Bakumenko

Fashion’s Lord of Darkness, otherwise known as Rick Owens, has presented a rather fitting SS21 Womenswear collection for Paris Fashion Week. Expanding on the post-apocalyptic punk – or, dare I say, just plain apocalyptic – style we all know and love, Owens gave us a collection of shrouded mystery and overt darkness.

A sea of black garments, with hints of pink, red, and neon yellow, Rick Owens Phlegethon SS21 was an edgy showcase, a continuation of his SS21 Menswear collection, also titled Phlegethon, after a river in ancient Greek mythology. Models strut around outside, keeping lots of distance between themselves at times, while wearing platform thigh-high boots and high-cut body suits, sexy and daring. Sheer fabrics added to the mystery, as cloudy smoke spread around the venue as well. Some models were presented as stylish soothsayers, others seemed to channel Lady Gaga circa-2009 in their over-the-top platforms and exaggerated shoulders.  An overall dramatic and avant-garde collection, characteristic of Owens’ work, seems more timely than ever, and of course we had to read further into it.

As many designers have chosen themes of fantasy and escape for their quarantine-inspired SS21 collections, Owens forwent the lighthearted fantasy and kept it real. In the midst of a global pandemic, a worsening climate crisis, and the abuse of human rights around the world, Owens’ live-streamed collection is likely to be the wardrobe for an impending apocalypse that many feel is coming. The name Phlegethon itself provides a deeper meaning to the show, a river leading to the underworld, the center of Hell.

Not to be completely dark and ominous, we hope that a true apocalypse, whatever that may mean, isn’t on the horizon, but there are so many pressing issues in our world today that nobody can really be too sure what’s coming next. Rick Owens’ collection represents that uncertainty, the open ended-ness of our current situations and just one of the directions we may be headed.

While in lockdown, everyone is looking toward what life will be life when it returns to “normal” but this collection hints that there may not be a “normal” ever again. Even as in-person fashion shows return, they continue to carry symbols of quarantine, with all models wearing masks or face coverings and attempting to social distance.

Maybe the gloom and doom of Rick Owens’ SS21 presentation is in our future, maybe it isn’t. But it’s certainly in our present, and no matter the dark underlying connotations, we loved this classic display of Owens as the fashionable Lord of Darkness.

Credits: Visuals Courtesy of Rick Owens


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