I admit that Rick Owens’ Fall-Winter 2021 collection required some biblical background knowledge. As someone who’s rusty on scripture, I had to Google the meaning of “Gethsemane,” which is the name of the Paris-based fashion designer’s upcoming ready-to-wear line. What I learned is that Gethsemane was the garden Jesus prayed in the night before the crucifixion. In a press release provided to GRAZIA, the luxury label describes it as “a place of uneasy repose and disquiet before a reckoning.” If you find that statement feels relevant to recent times, you’re right on the money.
The designer—nicknamed The Lord of Darkness for his famously dystopian aesthetic—draws parallels between the Gethsemane garden and present-day hardships. “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,” says the brand. Instead of transporting models to Jerusalem for the live-streamed FW21 runway show, Owens chose the Lido di Venezia pier in Venice, which conveniently resembled a natural runway. The weather was grey and moody, perfectly reflecting the label’s post-apocalyptic style.
But beyond aesthetics, the beachside location ties into the collection’s biblical inspiration. “My garden is the beach in front of my home on Venice’s Lido,” said Owens. “My pandemic runway shows have all been on the Lido—a 2-hour drive from my factory in Concordia and a smaller footprint, pared-down, no audience, home-based mood that feels suitable for the moment.” As seen in the collection’s lookbook at the bottom of this article, the designer dressed every model in a mask to match their ensemble, a choice made because, as Owens puts it, “they are a vote for responsibility and consideration and an acknowledgment of our immediate collective experience.”
With Owens’ inspiration in mind, the final collection took the form of dramatic silhouettes—an expectation for the avant-garde artist. Sculpted-shoulder coats transform the body into, as Owens puts it, “architectural bulldozers,” and slashed black denim symbolises fear or rage (the designer told Vogue that his anger is exacerbated by “the forces that almost won the American election”). Puffer jackets are a combination of familiar and unfamiliar. Thongs are worn over bodysuits to make a statement. Sculptural, exquisite gowns are red carpet ready. And finally, sequins make a surprise but welcome appearance.
Experience the runway show in full, ahead.