As the end of summer approaches, it’s somewhat futile to talk about Rick Owens’ spring/summer 16 collection—yes, the one with models toting models. From the media frenzy surrounding his “human backpacks”, however, rises a statement on womanhood that lasts. Shining a new light on the much-debated designer, Glamcult was happy to arrange a virtual meeting between the famed Californian and photographer Rick Castro. A conversation between former lovers, common collaborators, long-time friends and radical cult icons.
Rick Castro: Hello Rick, it’s Rick. When you approach designing, is it a reaction to the times and your surroundings, or do you want to create your own world?
Rick Owens: Very much both. Creating my world is my reaction.
RC: For S/S16 I really enjoyed your fabrics, especially the snakeskin. What kind of snakes were used and how are they harvested?
RO: Xenopeltis unicolour [or sunbeam] snakes are hunted in Indonesia for the meat and the skins. The transparent processing is done in Italy though. We did some long gloves in this snakeskin that are super fragile, utterly impractical and gorgeous. Actually, very fetish.
RC: Are you moving away from leather and animal skins and going more into synthetic fabrics?
RO: I’ll always, always do leather. But I love metallized fabrics that look like car crashes. Would metal be considered synthetic? I also use nylon every season…
RC: What do you think of fabrics and clothing created by 3D printing?
RO: I haven’t seen enough of it to really judge, but I’m not attracted enough by the idea to investigate… sounds like it could be great for fast fashion.
RC: What kind of fabrications/clothing do you see as the future?
RO: It would be smug of me to make any kind of prediction, and fashion is such a weird and wonderfully unpredictable thing. Being surprised in fashion is what we’re all looking for.
RC: What’s your all-time favourite item you’ve designed?
RO: I like my monster body bags a lot, but that’s probably because they’re recent. I like how they erase everything: sex, detail, the history of fashion—they just create a monolith supporting your head. Kind of like a concrete kaftan.
RC: What’s the sexiest thing a man can wear?
RC: What’s the sexiest thing a woman can wear?
RC: Do you believe in fetish? What does fetish mean to you?
RO: I believe in complete immersion in and exploration of one’s personal interests. I believe in taking the simplest of life’s joys and elaborating on and celebrating them. Be it sex, tea or kittens.
RC: Where do you spend the majority of your time?
RO: I split my time between Paris and Venice, Italy.
RC: So what’s your current favourite city?
RO: I just got a butt-ugly rooftop condo on the Lido Beach in Venice that has a 360° view with the Adriatic Sea on one side and Piazza San Marco in the distance on the other side. This part of Venice is very provincial and quiet and next to the sea, but being seconds away from major art is pretty great.
RC: Have you spent much time in Amsterdam or other parts of the Netherlands?
RO: I haven’t. Maybe I’m afraid of too many distractions and temptations.
RC: Tell me about your installation with Huma Bhabha for Jason Jacques Gallery.
RO: Jason Jacques is someone who has the most exquisite taste, he’s a New York dealer who specializes in obscure art nouveau stoneware and I’ve bought some of my favourite things from him. He asked me to curate his booth and Huma Bhaba is someone I know and like. It just seemed like a perfect mix.
RC: Tell me about the plans for Les Deux Café in Venice.
RO: You know hun, she [Michelle Lamy] has so many scenarios that we just have to wait and see what happens. Your guess is as good as mine.
RC: What do you miss about Hollywood?
RO: Hustlers on Santa Monica Boulevard.
RC: I always thought you hated cats, now you have one. What made you change your mind?
RO: Who on earth can resist a kitten? Her name is Gaia but I like shrieking “pussy” in a cringey falsetto.
RC: Will you change your mind and be drinking tea and doing yoga soon?
RO: Change my mind about what? Instead of tea I do green juices and instead of yoga I do weights and stretch, but I think the goals are the same: serenity and being able to spread love.
RC: Now that Bowie is gone, are there any icons left that are worth idolizing?
RO: I am idolizing Christeene and The Divine David.
RC: Where will you spend your golden years?