Californian Rick Owens studied fine arts at Otis in Los Angles before dropping out to study pattern making and draping. This line of study led to work in the garment industry, where he produced knock-offs of designer clothing. It wasn’t long, however, before he started his own label, in 1994. Selling exclusively to Charles Gallay, a pioneering LA retailer, Owens quickly found a following. In 2001, he signed with Italian sales agent Eo Bocci Associati for worldwide distribution, and moved his production to Italy.
Owens came to prominence when an image of Kate Moss, wearing Owens’ fitted distressed leather jackets, appeared in Vogue Paris. Annie Leibovitz then shot him for a spread in American Vogue. In 2002, he accepted the post of Artistic Director at French fur maison Revillon, and also began a longstanding collaboration with stylist Panos Yiapanis. That same year, Owens won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Perry Ellis Emerging Talent Award.
Owens’ look has been described as “glamour-meets-grunge”, with lines centered on high-end leather jackets, directional dresses and urban knitwear that can add instant attitude to any modern wardrobe.
“I try to make clothes the way Lou Reed does music, direct, with minimal chord changes, and sweet but kind of creepy. It’s about giving everything I make a worn, softened feeling. It’s about an elegance tinged with a bit of the barbaric, the sloppiness of something dragging and the luxury of not caring. At Revillon, I felt it isn’t about display but rather giving the woman a selfish pleasure. It is about using sable as the lining under a very humble jacket, the luxury is all hers,” he once said, describing his aesthetic.
Unsurprisingly, Rick Owens has won a cult following (including celebrities Courtney Love, Madonna, and Zaha Hadid, among others). In 2007 he was awarded a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award and the Fashion Group International’s Rule Breaking award. He has stores in Paris, New York, London, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong.
Shop Rick Owens at Cahier d’Exercises.