Alien Couture. Rick Owens AW21

Rick Owens presented another incredible, made-in-lockdown collection, livestreamed straight from Venice Lido (the place where most of his brand’s goods are produced). “Doing these shows without an audience is becoming a kind of private ceremony because we’re sort of doing it for ourselves,” he told Vogue. “There’s a sweetness to it.” The runway was an actual concrete pier, and the background – a breezy, cold sea. The models looked like a troop of Giacometti sculptures, or aliens whose spaceship wrecked in the fog. The collection synthesized comfortwear of the pandemic – bodysuits, knits, the ubiquitous puffer – with the grandeur of haute couture. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more glamorous gown this season than this show’s closing look, a fully sequined ivory hourglass stunner with a sculptural, asymmetric neckline and a single sleeve that was worn with a black gauntlet and matching mask. To be honest, nobody today does draping as well as Owens. Equally fantastic were the couture-ish things he did with puffer capes and coats with his now-signature power shoulders. The use of sequins was an interesting take on femininity: the result was a “garment”, which appeared to be over-the-shoulder thongs worn with cashmere bodysuits. On the subject of underthings, the pentagram briefs from the January men’s show reappeared here wrapped around evening clutches, the implication being that these alien females had handled the “unhinged male aggression” that those briefs signified. Here’s what Owens had to say about it: “During times of strife, you gotta step up.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Rage. Rick Owens AW21

You can always expect emotions from Rick Owens. And this time, it’s rage. And sometimes, releasing rage is healing. Owens’s autumn-winter 2021 cast resembled a march of sexily sepulchral men stepping out to face their demons. Leather bodysuits – the latest chapter in his onesie narrative – sometimes enveloped, and sometimes hung half-worn as if flayed. Hooded habits came in recycled cashmere, waste plastic, or quilted material. You couldn’t make it out on the video, but the star on his newly Rick-ified Converse Chuck Taylors (this time the designer gives his man a rest from killer platform stompers) had been reworked into a pentagram. The oversized shoulders on slashed-arm overcoats and crop-top bomber jackets were meant to “mock male conservatism” in a collection Owens noted was an exploration of “male suppressed rage on every side of the moral divide.” In a preview, Owens confessed that he’d thought twice about facing rage in a collection presented just as four years of American carnage seemed to be over. “I thought this morning, does it feel a little tone deaf because now all of a sudden everything has shifted? Now that it’s all about optimism? But that dark element has not disappeared. And the fact that it came so close, this moral war, is horrifying.” Owens’s clothes are fundamentally playful provocations to conservatism and complacency. As well as a determination to remain uncomplacent about male aggression more broadly, Owens is sensitive to his own capacity for it. He said, “I’m always conscious of my own aggression. And the older that I get, I feel like I should have reached a level of serenity that I just haven’t; I get impatient, I get itchy, I snap at people sometimes. Aggression is something that I’m fascinated with because I’m constantly conscious of wrestling with it, personally. And I think that that’s true of every man.” Jackets with inbuilt gloves and masks were equipped for care of both the self and others through distance-dressing. And alongside satyr-appropriate thigh-highs and knowingly titillating bodysuits were garments designed for a broader constituency; examples included supple hooded shearlings, specially woven Japanese selvedge denim jeans, the Converse, and meandering olive cashmere knitwear. Owens said, “There’s a lot of regular-guy clothes in this collection, more than I have had in the past, maybe. I like that mix because it suggests more tolerance. I’m trying not to alienate or exclude.” This second show staged near Owens’s summer home on the Lido near Venice showcased a convincing interaction with the regular-guy world as passing locals watched the collection unfold. Showing here, said Owens, has become “like a private ritual” for him and his team because of that lack of a formal physical audience. The result was a film simultaneously intimate and grandiose. Owens observed, “I always kind of comfort myself that the world has always existed with darkness and light. And for some reason, there always seems to be enough goodness in humanity to just balance it out, and just to keep everything going. It’s close…but hope springs eternal.” By remaining sensitive to that human chiaroscuro through the creation of garments that subvert its darker shades, Owens contributes to the light.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Essentials Gift Guide

This year, I’ve decided to create dream gift guides that might make it easier for you to go (and filter) through the festive season. Get ready for a selection of beautiful items that will spark joy and last for years. The ones that will certainly please one’s senses and deliver heavenly feelings. Treat your loved ones and yourself! Here’s the curated edit of the most covetable delights, which are the ultimate essentials.

Stay Safe & Warm

Bottega Veneta shearling scarf, Byredo perfume, Thom Browne cashmere gloves & Marine Serre face mask.

Festive Home Days

The Elder Statesman two-tone cashmere knit jumper, Balenciaga cotton track pants & JW Anderson slip-on mules

Leopard Allure

Batsheva puffed-sleeve mini dress, Paul Smith leopard-intarsia socksTom Ford leopard print pumps & A.P.C. cardigan

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TASCHEN

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For The Cold Days

Moncler + Rick Owens “Hikoville” padded coat

Comfort Zone

Marine Serre fleece tubular scarf & ERL logo socks

Gifts That Give Back

Gucci double-breasted velvet blazer, Coperni “Swipe” bag, Sophie Buhai silver earrings, Wales Bonner fair isle wool cardigan & JW Anderson kitten heels

Home Elegance

The Vampire’s Wife high-shine midi dress, Erdem merino wool and cashmere blanket & Bibi van der Velden 18kr yellow gold, Moonstone pearl and diamond ring

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NET-A-PORTER Limited

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The All-Time Classics

Lemaire cotton belted trench coat, Prada V-neck cardigan, Noir Kei Ninomiya tartan skirt, Maison Margiela “Tabi” bag & Dr. Barbara Sturm body brush.

Easy Glam

Dries Van Noten blazer, Simone Rocha pearl clutch mini bag, Manolo Blahnik double strap sandals & Mondo Mondo heart-motif crystal drop earrings

Can’t Go Wrong Gifts

The Row TR1 top handle tote bag, Maryam Nassir Zadeh scrunchie, Victoria Beckham sunglasses, Sophie Bille Brahe pearl earrings & Diptyque “Jasmin” candle.

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Here are other gift guides you might have missed – “Cozy Chic” for her, “Stay Home Glamourfor her and “Be Boldfor him!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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TASCHEN