His vision of creation, eclectic and multidimensional, makes him one of the most fertile imaginations of his time. His geometric and powerful silhouettes influence the contours of contemporary creation, always ahead of his time. Owens' approach has been immediate and non-conformist from the start, fusing instinct, intimacy and reflection. While in Paris, Armand Hadida, founder of Leclaireur - who has been by the designer's side since the beginning - came to visit Rick Owens for an interview focused on Art, all the arts...
Armand Hadida: Paris loves you very much. We are fortunate to travel all over the world and we have had the privilege of seeing how much your presence has grown in the world's greatest capitals. We are particularly proud to have been by your side from the beginning of your history...
Rick Owens: You've even been a big part of developing that story!
AH: I love the way you presented this story to the fashion world and the way you were able to mix fashion, design and art. I purposely use the word Art, because for me, fashion and design are also Art.
NR: I am interested in your perspective on this issue. When we started, I had no idea what others were doing, so I had no awareness of our difference. I didn't have anything to compare it to because I didn't come from that background. We always followed our intuition, worked in our own way, as Michèle, Elsa, Luca and I wanted. Their creativity echoed mine in this adventure, and doing what they do requires a lot of talent. We've been together for 14 years, it's rare in the fashion industry to have such longevity, right? It is essential for us.
AH: The way you express your creativity is unique, and plays with conventions. We think in particular of your fashion shows.
RO: We have the opportunity to express ourselves fully. I don't know if I would have been able to express myself as much in the art world, even though I started with art studies. At the time, I thought I had too little to offer to Art. I was rather intimidated, impressed by the rules that I thought were intrinsic to Art, all the theory, the analyses.... was too much for me. I didn't realize that there were other ways of creating art, beyond this formal approach. Looking back, I realize that I lacked discernment, but that's why I turned to Fashion. It was another form of creativity, simpler for me.
It's hard to talk about Art without sounding critical or superior and I certainly don't want to be either. I think the fashion world has become more sophisticated because it has become more competitive. Clothes as such are no longer enough. You have to have something more, more personal, more intense than just beautiful pieces because there are a lot of beautiful clothes, all around us. When I go to a department store, I am stunned! There is so much to buy! Why would people buy our creations rather than those of others? It remains a mystery to me.
I think that what makes someone stand out in creative work is what you put into it. The funny thing is, when I talk about this subject, I often give the impression that I have all the answers. Which is not the case! And I don't want to give that impression either. I just think that we have a capacity of expression that goes far beyond clothes, beyond lifestyle. What I have done is that I have made a point of putting a lot of my life into my designs. Sometimes I question the vanity that may reside in my approach, and it may bother me... but not for long. I quickly absolve myself: we all have vanity. I've created a very particular, precise world that requires a lot of energy. So, sure, there may be a lot of ego in it, but I'm fine with that.
AH: You came to Fashion after learning the technical aspects as a model maker, and then combining them with your artistic knowledge from university. Isn't mastering the tools essential to any form of expression? It's an apprenticeship in itself. Look at young designers, the more tools they are given, the more likely they are to succeed and express themselves, beyond their work as a designer.
NR: Any intelligent and talented individual is necessarily driven by a thirst for information, an ability to go out and find the information they need. What I benefited from, in addition, what made the difference, was a certain number of technical qualities. That's why I tell young designers who come on the market to master their technical knowledge. I assume that they are creative and that they know what they want to express. Anyone can be creative, have taste. Inspiration? Everyone has inspiration. It's the execution that counts.
AH: Are you anticipating your next shows?
RO: I'm thinking of developing something different. That's why I put a lot of emphasis on gestures during my shows. In the end, it's about so much more than clothes. I don't like to use the term "performance" for the shows, but they are certainly "ceremonies". I think a fashion show is a ceremony of beauty. People come together to share an experience, a vision of beauty, that is personal to me. And when they go to buy those clothes afterwards, they are imbued with that ceremony that they participated in. In a fashion show, clothes are just one element among others.
We have grown a lot, much more than I could have imagined. If we had to consider cutting back a little, that would be fine. All the elements of success are there: family, creativity, health... We've created all of that in a way that makes me happy. If I look back, I'm proud of what we've accomplished.
AH: Do you have any favorite places in Paris that inspire you? Any favorite galleries or museums?
RO: I love Pantin, but I'm not very good at discovering new talent. Michele loves it! I prefer older art. I do the Salons and fairs, sometimes, because they are parties. Sometimes I see pieces that I like but I can never get completely interested in a young artist. I need to see the whole story. I need a beginning and an end, to understand the cycle of his creation, and what's left of it. I need all of that. There's melancholy in that, certainly. I like that it's all over, and that it's impossible to recreate anything, because the experience has come to an end. But I'm still interested in very contemporary art, because I love to see the beginnings of a new creative or cultural community in full bloom. It's energizing!
Images and videos by Owenscorp