Rick Owens: Simplicity, Severity, Success

[tweet_box design=”box_13_at” float=”left” width=”40%” author=”Rick Owens” pic_url=”http://losangelesentertainmentnews.com/wp-content/uploads/rick-owens-launches-miami-store-and-e-commerce-0.jpg”]It boils down to construction, creating my own language from the inside out, but always keeping my signature[/tweet_box]

The essence of the man emerged slightly in a 2014 video and article about Rick Owens with Vanessa Friedman for the New York Times. During the interview for Rick Owens: Secure in His Own World, Owens mentioned that he “likes things very simple, modest, humble, super simple, as severe as possible”. He was speaking about his building in the 7th district of Paris, where he lives and works. The five story building has the three bottom floors devoted to business and the top two are the living space. But, considering his design history as a whole, it is obvious to see parallels between his preferred home and work environments and his collections (New York Times).

Owens at Paris Fashion Week
Owens’ Thursday 12:30 PM, January 21, 2016 fashion show scheduled for Paris Fashion Week is certain to bring surprises. The curious will need to wait to see what he brings (Mode a’ Paris).

The Cyclops Collection: Militaristic Efficiency Bordering On Aggression
In truth, his most recent collections did bring surprises and challenges to viewers and to Owens, himself. His Spring/Summer Mens’ Collection, titled Cyclops, is classic and new Owens all in one package. This is typical of the now world famous, fashion leader. His own descriptions of Cyclops refer to the use of classic military silhouettes and uniforms as being an ideal way to provide men an “efficient, well proportioned, rational, dignified and heroic” appearance. He explains his use of the “u.s. m1965 field jacket and placket” as the core inspiration for this collection. He wanted it to bring out the rebellion and anti-war protest images in the clothing. He used black leather, transparent leather, snakeskin, painted canvas, roughened toile; all in the minimalist lines of jackets, shirts and tunics over shorts or sandals.
Some models wore swirls of hair around their heads, with a single tunnel protruding forward from their faces in artistic images of the cyclops monster. Owens himself writes that cyclops is a monster with a particularly “narrow focal point”. He believes that one trait of masculinity is this desire to focus on moving from one point to another in the quickest way possible. His collection is one expression of efficiency which nearly veers “into aggression”. (YouTube)

At this show, one of his longtime models walked the catwalk and pulled out a “kill the German Chancellor banner”. It is easy to understand why Owens was frustrated enough to punch him backstage. The banner was a complete surprise for Owens. Owens told reporters that the model allowed personal efficiency to become aggression, which was Owens’ theme for the show. He wanted the public to know that the demonstration was not reflective of the “house of Rick Owens”. (YouTube)

A Distinctive Non-Niche Design Niche
The clothing of Rick Owens is often described as minimalistic, hip hop, grunge, glamorous and high end. These adjectives are part, but not all of what makes each Owens collection successful. In his earliest designs, he focused on the kind of leather jackets bikers wear. But, his take on them made them something more than they were before. He added his own vision and leather jackets became works of art. His scrupulously tailored details created newer, thinner silhouettes from older ones. He added textures and lines that retained the rebellious appeal of the old while adding minimalist presence to the new. As a result, his clothing hit the streets, with everyone who could afford to buy his pieces wearing entire outfits from his lines. In an interview with Lynn Yaeger for the Wall Street Journal, his clothing is pointedly described as “glamorous grunge”. He uses the term “glunge”. He is also said to have “a love of polished imperfection”. These terms capture public thinking his design niche. But, it is his own thinking about his artistry that provides his non-niche status.
” ‘It boils down to construction, creating my own language from the inside out, but always keeping my signature,’ he explains,”(Wall Street Journal).

He is his own niche; his own house.

Celebrities Owens Style
Owens lives with celebrity. His wife, Michelle Lamy, is said to be his muse. When French Vogue published a photo of one his leather jackets worn by Kate Moss, his fame increased. Anna Wintour has assisted him, and Panos Yiapanis has collaborated as a stylist with him. He has won awards too numerous to mention. But his most touching celebrity contact was the one he mentioned himself to writer Lynn Yaeger. Owens was having dinner at Brasserie Le Bourbon when 90-year-old Pierre Cardin “approached Owens and complimented him on his work”. For Owens, this was a touching validation. (The Wall Street Journal).

His Separate Fashion House
Owens has kept a design presence which is purposefully separate from the rest in the fashion world. He is a singularly quiet man who has built a fashion empire over his twenty plus years as a designer. His financial success, with some sources quoting over $120 million in profits estimated for 2014, has allowed him great freedom to remain independent of the usual fashion house system. In an article by Veronique Hyland, he said, “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do,” (The Cut).
It is also this independence that allows him to present his shows his way. One glorious example is when he used a step team for his Spring 2013 Paris show. Reported by Charlotte Cowles, this truly was a “Great Idea,” (The Cut) .
Celebrated for his 20th anniversary in 2014, a striking, enormous statue of Owens was created by Douglas Jennings for the “World of Rick Owens” exhibit held at Selfridges in London. The sculpture, the event and the power to sell testify to the iconic status Owens has earned (The Cut).
Owens’ admitted love for the arts propels his thinking and inspires his creativity. He owns his separate house to hold his artistry as his own.

Author: Los Angeles Entertainment News

Founded in 2016, Los Angeles Entertainment News covers social issues in the Entertainment arenas: movies and television, music, men's and women's fashion and philanthropy in Los Angeles.

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