Barney's editorial platform, The Window, just released a silent documentary that gives a very rare insight into the day to day routine of designer, Rick Owens. Dollying with the camera in a monochromatic format, Owen's apartment is a solid representation of his admiration for all things mono-tone and art nouveau. The short film see's Michele and Rick's cat, Gaia, as well as Owen's everyday operations to getting his brillance in store.
Would you describe yourself as a conceptual designer or practical designer?
Well, everything’s for sale. I’m not making stuff for runway only. Everything we do is a proposal for the real world. Don’t get me started—I always resented about fashion these men creating these floats for women to come out in on the runway, and then they come out in jeans and T-shirt at the end. I feel like it’s ridiculous to create this fantasy of a woman that clearly doesn’t exist if they don’t believe in it. That makes me crazy. Everything I propose is for real life. Don’t get me wrong, I understand fantasy—but we can make that fantasy an everyday thing. I do my best to make them meet.
You’re a California native but have been working from Paris for 14 years now. How has that changed things?
I think there’s an American sleaze that I bring to Paris that kind of works for me. There’s a sense of ease in California. In the U.S., everything is quite straightforward, whereas Europe is about layers and layers of history. You can even see it in the language—the way you form a sentence in French versus the way you form a sentence in English. Americans will always find the straightest line from point A to point B, which can be quite blunt—especially to Europeans sometimes. I’ve brought a fascination with European complexity to an American bluntness, and it’s kind of my shtick. Regarding L.A., I really think about the expanse of space. When you’re born with those proportions, you carry that with you. As for Paris, I love it—although I don’t always feel totally welcome. It can be a bit aloof here, which is fine because I am not that gregarious, so I don’t need to be friends with everybody. Just recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about environment, and would my collections be different if I had, say, a Rothko in my office? Really it’s just about excellence and having really refined excellence around you all the time. When I was starting out, I was on Hollywood Boulevard, and my references were much more raw.
People consider you quite gothic and dark, but you once said, a “teenage angst without the angst.” How do you describe yourself?
I think the goth thing is more about the art nouveau influence, but it’s just an easy thing to say. I mean I get it—the long, black hair! I was goth when I was a kid, a lot of people were. There is an adolescent side to it that isn’t flattering when you’re a 52-year old man, but I guess I brought that on myself! I think if I was just a ‘goth designer,’ I wouldn’t have lasted this long, but people know that. If anything, maybe I’ve changed the perception of goth and made it more glamorous or sophisticated.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have no clue. I never expected any of this! If I can keep going at this rate, I am so satisfied. I learn every day. I know so much more now than I did 10 years ago, and I’ll know more in 10 years. And there’s always more to learn—it’s so motivating.