Rick Owens and Martin Margiela’s lovechild aesthetic, ‘Avant Apocalypse’, seems to (at last) have reached the masses. Coined by trend researcher and forecaster Mandy Lee, Avant Apocalypse is the new trend which has evolved from the subversive basics movement in fashion, which saw minimal wardrobe staples such as tank tops, suit trousers, and blazers updated with asymmetric cuts, slashes of exposed skin, considered layering and cut outs.
Arguably, subversive basics were born from an offshoot of deconstructed garments: pieces that expose the architecture of the garment and reveal normally concealed elements of the body. The subversive basics trend worked to reclaim the body, using layers, sheer fabrics and unconventional silhouettes in order to express body-conscious and constructed sexuality, all on the wearer’s own terms.
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As well as appearing on social media and DIY fits, the trend took hold partly due to designers such as Nensi Dojaka, DIDU and Auné’s architecturally structured, revealing basics. Mugler, with its negative space and form-fitting SS21 designs, were also a key player in spotting subversive basics on and off the runway.
In the wake of the pandemic and with the world now (essentially) opened up, it’s going further: Lee explains that Avant Apocalypse is characterised by neutral maximalism, wearing pieces “the wrong way”, lots of deconstruction and knits in neutral tones. Think clashing textures, exposed skin, but all tied together in a cohesive colour palette. Carried over from subversion is asymmetry, too – expect off shoulder, one sided and off-kilter pieces to dominate.
However, the crucial element of the fledgling trend is layering: taking your basics (subversive or otherwise) and piling them together to create new silhouettes and cut outs. Here, your body is the canvas, and the trend lends itself to the resurgence of thrifting and creativity within fashion. Established and emerging designers such as Ottolinger, Oriens and Ai Mei Li are fuelling this trend, with their heavily deconstructed and layerable pieces, that are already gaining a lot of attention on social media.
As Lee put it, “there’s really no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it”; you can really get creative and layer up for the Avant Apocalypse. To us, this just feels like when Tumblr kids first discovered Rick Owens in the early 2010s.