Rick Owens PHLEGETHON Spring/Summer21

Dear Shaded Viewers,

When all hell breaks loose, there is one designer’s take on our world that I am always curious about, and he did not disappoint.

Most people would describe Rick Owen’s work as post-apocalyptic, but they are wrong to assume that this collection was nothing but realistic.

His latest collection for Spring/Summer21 was revealed in the Piazza in front of the Lido Casino, in Venice. The designer explained that it is “A monumental 1930s rationalist palazzo that I walk by and worship every day on my way to the beach.”

The collection was called Phlegethon, the river of fire amongst the four rivers described in Dante’s Inferno, a river of boiling blood to submerge and punish murderers.

“I think what I’ve always done is try to present a realistic picture of the world. It’s the pursuit of beauty, but with an undertone of reality. There is a dark side to the world that we’re all familiar with – and you can choose to ignore it and create a sugar-coated, Disney version, or you can acknowledge both the beautiful and the dark.” said the designer, in an interview with Vogue.

Perhaps the dark side the designer was referring to was; the continuing pandemic, continuing racism against people of color, continuing damage to the eco-system…

This collection felt as though it included many contrasts… a contrast between the tough black against the sweet pink, the harsh deconstructed jackets to the free-flowing chiffons, the structured armour-like capes and exaggerated shoulders to the soft architectural tunics… The collection was tough but yet there was something fragile about it.

As majority of designers chose to paint an optimistic and joyful world for the future, Rick Owens bravely acknowledges the darkside of reality and his message is, “In the face of adversity, we have to pull ourselves up”.


Aybuke Barkcin

Aybüke Barkçin is an art director, photographer, curator and writer that looks at fashion through the lens of political and societal dynamics. She completed her master's Creative Direction in POLIMODA, Italy and has a background in International Relations and Graphic Design. Her work can be found in her website: https://www.aybukebarkcin.com/