Rick Owens – “Elegance paired with a touch of sloppiness”: with these words Rick Owens describes his individual, innovative and independent design. An American design talent in Paris inspires with his courageous, authentic and avant-garde designs. Unmistakable characteristic: the color black. Black clothing. Black shoes. Black handbags. Black accessories. And black furniture. Rick Owens does not create fashion, he creates a lifestyle. Would you like to learn more about this exceptional talent, his key career points and his fashion feats? Welcome to the world of “Dark Fashion”!
Rick Owens: abstract yet accessible avantgarde designs
Richard Saturnino Owens, the avant-garde master craftsman with a bourgeois name, creates an avant-garde fashion sportswear label with gender-neutral design and gothic aesthetics. What makes his fashion extraordinary? How his career has developed? Read it yourself!
“Dark Lord of Fashion” – black sheep in the fashion world of Los Angeles
1962: a formative moment in fashion history Avant-garde design talent Rick Owens is born in Porteville, California. A place known for its light earthquakes and citrus fruit plantations. Avant-garde design functions rather as a foreign vocabulary. But he is not intimidated by this. At first he tries his hand at a “fine art” study at Parson University. There, however, it only lasts two years. He breaks off even before his degree. His intuition leads him towards Trade College. A two-year apprenticeship, where he learns “pattern making”, paves his way into the fashion world. No glamour. No big high fashion contacts. He sits in the midst of Korean seamstresses. There he learned how to create pattern making and created a basis to get a job.
Fake-Fashion: bags, shoes and clothes
After graduating from Los Angeles Trade Technical College in pattern making, he worked for a company that produces fake designer clothes.
“They used to bring me a Versace jacket, I copied the pattern in an hour so they could return it to get the refund.”
This creation of cheap knock-offs of big brand products turned out to be a fantastic training. He could not express his creativity and ideas, but he was able to perfect his pattern technique.
Michèle Lamy: the woman who presents the fashion world to him in Paris
After finishing in the “fake fashion industry” he meets his current wife, Michèle Lamy. His work on her sportswear line “Lamy” is the start of their relationship. He describes her as his great source of inspiration. The two are happily married until today, 2020. Among other things, Michèle Lamy is also involved in any processes and in collections by Rick Owens.
Career: from fake designer clothes to exclusive avant-garde fashion
Fake clothes and designers? A paradox in itself. Two terms that could not be more different from each other. And yet both are terms that find their place in Rick Owens’ unwritten biography. The following explains how his career has evolved from making fake clothes to making avant-garde designer pieces.
Launch of “Rick Owens”: clothes, bags and shoes in black
1994: A year that turns his entire career upside down. He has had enough of producing fake articles. He has had enough of a financially secure, risk-free life. He wants to make his visions, his creativity and his dreams come true.
“I can be poor, that’s not hard for me. I have to go as fas as I can before I die.”
Video: Rick Owens expresses his philosophy
So he launched his own fashion line “Rick Owens” and already in 1994 he was able to sell his designs to one of the most future-oriented fashion boutiques – Charles Gallay. Inspired by creativity and the dedication of Charles James, he was successful. However, he soon realized that the full expression of his creativity must not lose its top priority. He is not concerned with the number of collections and shows.
“I like using the runway to express as much positive energy as I can get out there while I’m on Earth”
His collections are not just clothes, but a lifestyle. He sells a total package. He does not compare himself with others. He looks back on his own designs and always tries to improve himself, to become the best version of himself.
So he creates a community that doesn’t just own a part of his collection because they are part of a trend. He creates a community that lives his lifestyle. Grunge Queen Courtney Love, Madonna, Kate Moss, Kayne West, A$AP Rocky, Taylor Swift, Halle Berry, Jaden Smith, are just a few of the few names that are inspired by his design arts.
Key point: Kate Moss as fan, US-VOGUE as sponsor
“Now I am going to invent the creation of myself!”
With this project he should be successful. So in 2001 a snapshot of supermodel Kate Moss is taken in one of his jackets. By none other than VOGUE photographer Corinne Day. Her snapshot shone in the french VOGUE only a short time later.
A snapshot that set his career in motion. None other than US-VOGUE editor-in-chief Anna Wintour falls in love with anhib’s untypical design. The enthusiasm for his innovative thinking leads to the American VOGUE sponsoring his first fashion show SS02 in NY. Another step towards the fashion world.
The next big step was his move to Paris in 2003.
Large breakthrough of the luxury label in the fashion metropolis Paris
But his story does not end in Paris. There it first picks up speed. With his philosophy, authenticity and priorities, he is well received and knows how to establish himself as a constant in the fashion world. He opens boutiques all over the world, sells his creations in his online store and through possible retailers like Farfetch and Mytheresa. Among others he has won the following awards:
- Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Talent 2002
- Cooper-Hewitt Design Award for Fashion Design
- Fashion Group International’s Rule Breaker Award
- Lifetime Achievement Award 2017
Bags, shoes and clothes from California in Paris
Rick Owen’s life story is written like a classic Hollywood movie. He grew up in an environment far away from fashion glamour. Unfortunate study experiences and less glamorous work make him authentic and likeable. Then the classic, glorious turn. The discovery. Designer boutiques, his current wife Michèle Lamy and Anna Wintour personally pave his way into the fashion world. His story continues even more clichéd in Paris, the fashion metropolis par excellence. The following are a few facts about Rick Owens that earn him further sympathy points:
5 things not everyone knows about the avant-garde talent of a luxury brand
- in his 40s he has only really set foot in the big fashion world – fashion is often associated with youth – he breaks with this stereotype
- regarding lifestyle he lives the typical Californian cliché: green smoothies and gym day in and day out
- he is a full-fledged writer and editor who has written any books (L’ai-Je Bien Descendu? 2007, RickOwens 2001, Rick Owens Furniture 2017)
- his closet consists almost exclusively of his own clothes, he doesn’t want to waste too much thought and time, he has a commitment to his own unique aesthetics, silhouette – “it is a lifestyle” – luxurious gothic grunge lifestyle
- his clothes have already had a cult following: stylist Patricia Field used his clothes in scenes from “The Devil Wears Prada
Coats, jackets and shirts in leather and transparent fabrics
The elementary part of every outfit: the clothes! Rick Owens has devoted himself entirely to his creativity and philosophy in this area. Transparency, leather and black dominate most of his clothing. He makes it possible to integrate avant-garde fashion into everyday life!
Coat: avant-garde, wearable creations
The silhouette and shape of his clothes are the characteristics of his design signature. Light gothic-grunge aesthetics paired with avant-garde influences and geometric cuts. A master in his work. Convince yourself!
- Long sleeve coat with oversize hood in black nylon (1.595 €)
- Oversize “Museum Coat” in black and white color mix of cotton and wool felt (2.245 €)
- Maxi down coat in black made of slightly shiny nylon (1.755 €)
Leather jacket: asymmetry, avant-garde and comfort in one
The leather jacket is the most popular model in his collections.
The garment with which one associates Rick Owens. His talent in pattern design and innovative thinking is evident in these showpieces.
- “Larry Biker Jacket” made of black lamb leather with contrasting arm parts and included turtleneck (2.080 €)
- Bomber leather jacket made of grey calfskin with beige-dyed lambskin inserts (3.510 €)
- “Forever Classic Biker Jacket” made of black lamb leather with asymmetric zippers (1.782 €)
T-Shirt: both Basic and Eye-Catcher
A T-shirt can be both the basic and main component of an outfit. Rick Owens offers everything. From simple black, boxy cut shirts, to slightly transparent long-sleeved shirts with a frayed hem, to leather oversice shirts – everyone will find what they are looking for! What connects everyone? The love for detail!
- Oversize “Jumbo Tee” in black from Liquid Latex Satin (570 €)
- “Forever Sleeves Rib Tee” in slightly transparent black cotton with frayed hems (222 €)
- “Forever Level Tee” made of cotton in black with horizontal seam pattern (257 €)
Jewelry: avant-garde on hand, nose and ears
What is an outfit without jewelry? Not completely. What is an outfit with the wrong jewelry? No outfit. Luckily Rick Owens has taken on this task and created jewelry that is the perfect complement to his clothes. See for yourself! The lifestyle “Rick Owens goes on!
Ring: Gothic-Avantgarde as an accessory
With his extraordinary, exclusive jewelry creations he reaches a new level of design. Especially his rings shine with their mystical, extraordinary presentation and their love for detail.
- Double Hunrod ring in gold and silver (6.000 €)
- “Maxi-Hunrod-Ring” with turquoise stone (22.000 €)
- Hunrod Ring (21.000 €)
Nose ring: pure aesthetics, grunge attitude and a spark of glitter
A nose ring is rarely seen in the classic collections of classic designers. Classical designer and Rick Owens are anyway two terms that do not form a symbiosis. Rick Owens knows how to evade the classic fashion and create his own work. So also with his jewelry line. Nose rings made of oxidized bronze. Sometimes with several diamonds, engravings or other luxury.
- “Hunrod Nose Ring” made of oxidized bronze with rose cut (5.815 €)
Shoes: the step towards “Dark Fashion World”
Boring, basic shoes? Not with Rick Owens. The opposite awaits you with his shoe collections. Leather overknees and sneakers in one – no problem with Rick Owens. Furthermore his collection captivates with extraordinary boot styles with platform, chunky sneakers and flat shoes.
Boots: Highlight of every outfit
Boots that work as an eye-catcher of every outfit and still match the style of Rick Owens 100%. Most of the time he uses his favorite components: leather and black.
- “Bozo Tractor Sock-Overknee-Boots” in black calfskin (1.290 €)
- “Mega Bozo Tractor” – Chelsea Boots with transparent chunky sole in black calfskin (855 €)
- “Kowboy Sliver Boots” in black calfskin with wedge heel (1.515 €)
Comfort in the world of the avant-garde thanks to sneakers with that certain something
As avant-garde as Rick Owens’ design is, he can also integrate practicality and comfort into his design. His collection of sneakers is a prime example. Of course, these too bear his unmistakable signature!
- Black sneakers with grey kidskin mega lacing (830 €)
- Highop Sneaker in black and white geometric pattern made of calfskin (800 €)
- Low Sneaker in calf white calfskin with blue-transparent sole (675 €)
Boots: with platform heels on the way to the fashion world
With his extraordinary, innovative bootees he meets the taste of the fashion world. Platform heels have established themselves here as one of his characteristics. He is not afraid to give women height and plays with unusual shoe shapes. See for yourself!
- “Goat Kiss Ankle Boot” in black calfskin with goatskin details and block heel (1.285 €)
- Black “Motocross Kiss Ankle Boot” made of bull leather with double platform heel (1.431 €)
- “Kiss Open Shoe” peep-toe ankle boot with lacing details in black calfskin (1.570 €)
Fashion world: A piece of avant-garde in your pocket
Here Rick Owens can pursue his love for leather-& fur articles. His avant-garde design signature is unmistakably transferred to the designs of his bags. See for yourself!
Avant-garde as a stuffed animal
Plush animals at Rick Owens? He knows how to surprise or rather shock. Bags in rabbit shape are part of his bag collection. An eye, a nose, two teeth, long ears and a secret zipper pocket turn a soft toy into an avant-garde creation by Rick Owens.
- Bunny bag in powder blue made of nutria fur and calfskin (1.269 €)
- Black “Hunrickowens Bag” bag bag in cyclop form made of mink fur (1.458 €)
- “Hun Fat Bunny Bag” in cardinal red made of mink fur and calfskin (1.782 €)
Bags: Rick Owens in the fashion world
Besides his extraordinary bags, which remind of soft toys, he also shines with his bag designs that are more suitable for everyday use. Whether crossbody, handle bag or clutch – Rick Owens offers the whole spectrum. Convince yourself!
- Balloon leather bag with silver details in black calfskin (2.055 €)
- Performa Griffin Bag in yellow and white with studded details in snake & lamb leather (3.780 €)
- Fanny pack “Cerberus Bumbag” in black calfskin (1.070 €)
Rick Owens Avantgarde fashion for everyday life
His creations are an art in themselves, but they are also correspondingly expensive. Collaborations with affordable mainstream brands and second lines of his luxury label create the opportunity to acquire a piece of the Rick Owens lifestyle for less money.
Five variations of Rick Owens aesthetic art
His creativity and variety of ideas knows no limits. So it does not remain only with his main line “Rick Owens”, which produces clothes, handbags, accessories and shoes. Following is a list of all his established lines:
- 2005 second line more feminine and cheaper “Rick Owens Lilies”
- 2005 denim line “Rick Owens DRKSHDWW” (Dark Shadow)
- 2006 Rick Owens Menswear
- 2007 Fur Design “Palais Royale”
- Furniture Collection: “Prehistoric” presented at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, seven-piece collection in white and black
Collaborations: affordable Rick-Owens avant-garde fashion
As suitable for everyday use as most of his clothes are, they are unaffordable on the other side. In order to be able to offer cheaper pieces, he has started possible collaborations. Such as with the following brands:
- Hood Rubber
Exciting fashion shows: Rick Owens surprises the fashion world
Rick Owen’s very personal and very intimate fashion develops with him. His goal is not to design in a consumer-driven way. He wants to express his philosophy and can be called a niche designer with a special aesthetic. Rick Owens is like his fashion. He does not like to stand still, rather he loves to develop himself further. Both in terms of his personality and fashion. At his fashion shows he does not want to sell his idea as a finished construct, but he uses his inner ideas as vague thought constructs.
“All collections are a reflection of the other collections [you can only] make progress by setting the mistakes and success of my past!”
In his fashion shows, he always refers to current events that are critical of society. Here are some of the most expressive fashion shows by Rick Owens!
Video Fashion Show SS14: Tap dancers replace models
At this fashion show Rick Owens manages to surprise once again. Instead of the classic 90-60-90 models, various tap dancers from Africa present his fashion in the form of an African dance. He strongly criticizes the lack of diversity in the fashion business. Convince yourself of the breathtaking fashion shows, which do not only convey fashion, but a message.
Video Fashion Show FW15: strategically placed holes, male nudity & Sphinx-inspired clothing
Another example of how cleverly Rick Owens incorporates socially critical themes with topicality into his collections and their presentation. See for yourself: