The Very Right-Now Allure of Going to Extremes


A monumental Brutalist casino on the Lido. An empty piazza in front of an even emptier beach, spotted with abandoned cabanas. Billowing smoke and hard core disco strains.

Also a stream of masked women in thigh-high boots and trigger-finger hot pants, black shadows of capes at their backs and jackets with shoulders like flying buttresses on top, Pepto-Bismol pink wisps of chiffon bandaging their torsos and sequined swathes of something knotted around the hips.

This was “Death in Venice,” the Rick Owens way: Take some Thomas Mann, mix it up with a dash of Dante (specifically Phlegethon, one of the five rivers of the Greek Underworld, featured in “The Inferno”), throw in some Donna Summer and stir into a fashion show. The references are enough to make your head spin, and the clothes looked more “Mad Max” than Penguin Classics, but the clash of cultures was enough to jolt anyone out of the fugue of digital viewing, or the Slough of Despond.

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