Updated on Feb 16, 2009
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chinani 's Thoughts:


I heard you were in Berlin recently and came to the realisation you actually don’t like art much! Is that right?
Rick Owens: Yeah, I was there last month for the Biennale and it was a great time. But I did come to this big realisation! I don’t really like the whole world of art – the I’m going to teach you a lesson, the whole smarty pants thing. And social observation art. I am just sick of it all. We went to some of those shows, but I lose patience with those artists who seem to say, “I am fascinating, try and decipher me“. I just lost patience and partly that’s because I have no patience anyway. But I couldn’t get into it ultimately, I just wanted to get back in the car and go on a tour of Berlin. I preferred looking at all the architecture, cruising the city taking pictures. I can stay awake for architecture! There’s so much great stuff to take pictures of in Berlin. I have to say I loved, loved, loved it.

The size of the roads is great. And there’s less people on the streets.
It’s haunting, there is no way to avoid it. It must seem kinda heavy if you live there, but it can be very romantic when you visit.

I like the sense of space coming out onto the streets after working into the evening. You’ll see no cars or people for five minutes.
Wonderfully spooky. I’m not sure what I would go back for, maybe for some kind of work? I don’t really hang out in bars, socialise or go to nightclubs. No, that’s not true, I do now, I go to nightclubs. I just started again actually.

How did that happen?
Well, I was in New York after I was in Berlin and I went to an after-hours club. I hadn’t done that for a long time. I got up early had a few espresso and went to a club. And it was just wonderful! I have done this before, but it’s been a long time now. I had forgotten the feeling of being completely fresh, coffee buzz, a dark dark room, lights; there is something wonderfully perverse about this. I love to dance! I’m pretty crude, but I think lots of people get over complex. There are a few things that are simple pleasures and one is the joy and ecstasy in dancing. Drugs and everything were fun but just dancing on your own is one of the purest, simplest expressions of joy. It’s great to change one’s mindset. You don’t have to do anything too complicated to get there, it’s so simple and fun. The smoke machine, the fog, the lesbians in the corner, it was great! It’s sophisticated and totally unsophisticated at the same time.

So what was the name of the club?
It was called Shelter. A friend of mine told me about it as I needed a good after-hours distraction. I’m not really fond of dinner parties or dressing up and socialising. If you are going to go out, it’s either to get laid or wasted and I don’t need to do those things anymore. I like to go and dance. I’m going to go to one here in Paris next. It’s out of town. I’ll see how it is; a little treat.

Talking of revelations, you know I thought the Rick Owens autumn/ winter collection was very special, don’t you?
Yeah, well I think I’m getting better. It has been this really gradual process for me, partly because I never really knew how to do fashion shows. I knew how to make clothes that were commercial and I knew how to create “my world“ in a small way but a lot changed when I started to distribute internationally and I started showing on the runway because I never intended to do that originally. Runway to me was like show business and it’s taken a while getting to the point where I’m comfortable with how to get my message across in that context. It felt like ‘Sigrid and Roy’ and it did kind of mess me up a little bit. I don’t think I made huge mistakes but there are things that I look back and cringe at. I think in the last five seasons gradually I have made a lot of changes. I have got rid of a lot of people that I felt were distracting me; they were too fashiony. I got the business back to feeling that it was in a straightforward, comfortable, confident place. It was back to where I could do pretty much what I wanted, instead of what I felt I needed to be doing, or what would please people. I guess there was this period when I was thinking “are people going to respond to this better or this better“. Now I’ve stopped all that and started to think “I will not go out of business as long as I do it my way.“ So, yes, I also think the collection has got much better.

Are you enjoying it all?
I think I have always enjoyed it actually. But now I feel safe as I’m not trying to please others. This is what it is, there is nothing really to worry about, if people hate it then it doesn’t matter. That’s okay if they don’t like it. Because I do.

You’ve spoken about being influenced by the sculptor Lee Bontecou for this new collection.
To tell you the truth I never did a lot of research on her or anything. I just went to a couple of shows over the past five years. She’s from the 70’s and she must be well known; she had a big show in the States and someone here at the studio showed me the work and I was really into it. Then Lee Bontecou just somehow kept showing up. I was more inspired by her collages actually. It was very much what I do, so it was quite easy to pay homage to her. Do you think it’s pretty corny to be inspired by an artist just like that?

I’m not sure it is. Your pieces are very sculptural anyway.
Yes her aesthetic certainly meshed with mine very easily. Being stimulated by it and recognising it and then going with it was good.

For me, it’s not such a literal reference. Many catwalk designers take an artist and quickly copy their work or style – Hockney or Warhol or whoever – but your collections always have your own strong signature on them. I thought it felt a very natural progression, it felt very Rick Owens. It didn’t feel like, “lets do the seventies”.
I know, but I did lift denim from her collages. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of that but I did think, “Well, that’s so literal“. But if it looked good and felt right, why should I reject it just for this reason?

When the models came out, it felt like an army, I remember I thought immediately of the terracotta army.
Yes, I like that effect – creating a universe. I think that’s what a designer has to do to be a true designer. The whole thing of changing all the time too. I like that Oscar Wilde saying: ’Fashion is one industry that hates itself so much that it has to change itself every six months. (Actually: “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months“. It is kind of true and I always wanted to be someone who kept a really specific vision all the way through and there are times I have wobbled. Even if people do not like it they sense the conviction, they respect that and that’s the main thing for me.

rest of interview from qvest magazine

Comments (1)

Style2Ali on March 31
Powerful picture!
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