Rick Owens in i-D

33 things you need to know about rick owens

From his fave food to his elaborate hair-care routine, i-D finds out more about our favourite 50-something designer/teen skate punk-lookalike.

by James Anderson
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18 December 2018, 11:42am

Rick Owens in i-D

Although fashion is often associated with youth, Rick Owens was actually in his forties when fame came-a-knocking almost two decades ago. Since his runway debut at New York Fashion Week in the early noughties, the designer has continued to develop his signature talents for cutting, draping and creating the sort of beautifully-wearable yet never-boring clothes, sneakers and accessories (showcased in his suitably dramatic seasonal presentations), which are increasingly sought-after by Owens's devoted fans around the world. He has also received a plethora of prestigious fashion industry awards over the years, including the Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Talent in 2002, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Award for Fashion Design and the Fashion Group International's Rule Breaker Award, and, in 2017, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here, i-D finds out more about our favourite 50-something designer/teen skate punk-lookalike -- from his fave food, to his love for his missus, Michèle, and even his elaborate hair-care routine.

Rick Owens pissing into his own mouth for i-D.
Self-portait by Rick Owens, The Spectator Issue, No.220, May 2002

1. Rick Owens's full name is actually Richard Saturnino Owens and he was born on 18 November, 1962.

2. Rick Owens was brought up in Porterville, California, an area associated with frequent low intensity earthquakes and the production of citrus fruits, though considerably less known for avant garde fashion!

3. Rick Owens's mum Concepción (or Connie, as she is nicknamed) was a school teacher and seamstress, and his dad, John, was a social worker. Connie treks to Paris each season to proudly watch their son's latest collections being shown.

4. Rick Owens wasn't allowed to watch TV at home until he was 16 years old... instead, the sounds of classical music from the likes of Wagner shook the walls, and classic literature by Karl Huysmans, Confucius, Aristotle and Pierre Loti lined the bookshelves.

5. Rick Owens attended the local Catholic school when he was a kid, but had a bit of a shit time there. He recalled, in an interview with The Independent: "It was hard, it was very hard. I mean, the other kids were vicious, like animals." Eeek!

6. Rick Owens's first job after he completed his course in pattern cutting at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College involved working for a company that produced illegal copies -- or "knock offs" as Rick cheekily refers to them -- of designer clothing.

7. Rick Owens met his wife and creative collaborator Michèle Lamy in 90s Los Angeles when he began working for her sportswear line, Lamy, as a pattern cutter. Michèle also ran several très fashionable restaurants/nightclubs, Café des Artistes and Les Deux Cafés, back in the day, which were frequented by the famous likes of Madonna.

8. Rick Owens has revealed he used to be a massive caner, often embarking on booze benders, and the next day not being able to remember where he had parked his car the night before, or even where he had actually been! He eventually ditched the partying when he realised he felt like he was dying.

9. Rick Owens originally founded his own label way back in 1994, selling his designs to one of LA's most forward-thinking fashion boutiques, Charles Gallay, and gaining high-profile fans such as grunge queen Courtney Love.

10. Rick Owens's work eventually came to the attention of Anna Wintour at American Vogue, who was so impressed that she arranged for the magazine to sponsor his first show at New York Fashion Week, for spring/summer 2002.

Rick Owens shot by Corinne Day for i-D in 2001.
Photography Corinne Day, Styling Panos Yiapanis. The 21 Issue, No. 212, August 2001

11. In 2004, Rick Owens and Michèle bought and moved into a five-storey mansion in Paris’ seventh arrondissement, which used to be the HQ of the French Socialist Party. At first it was full of dreary offices and weird partitioned rooms, but the twosome soon gutted the place and gave it a thorough Homes Under The Hammer (and Sickle)-esque makeover. They also own a lush apartment in Venice.

12. Rick Owens is never ever spotted down the chippy, or chomping a Ginsters pasty, as he eats super healthily -- a green smoothie for breakfast and fish, veg and avocado for lunch, are his typical diet, all prepared and delivered by a chef.

13. Rick Owens threw a fab party in London's only remaining gay leather bar, The Backstreet, in 2013, with a live performance from The Divine David and a gaggle of the capital's fashion and nightlife 'faces' in attendance, including James Jeanette of Wild Daughter, Lulu Kennedy of Fashion East, the singer and model Roy Inc, and the stylist and former i-D contributor Judy Blame (RIP).

14. Rick Owens and Michèle both appeared in the decidedly-NSFW video for Christeene's Butt Muscle single in 2017, which featured lashings of lube, simulated golden showers, faux fisting, crotch flashing and sloppy snogs galore. Gosh!

15. Rick Owens and Michèle also work together on the highly distinctive and very spenny Rick Owens furniture line. This comprises of large-sized pieces made from concrete, bronze, foam, leather, marble, alabaster and plywood -- examples of which can be found in the couple's own magnificent abodes, as well as many other people's magnificent abodes.

16. Rick Owens is not just a talented creator of clothes and furniture, but also a fully fledged writer-editor who has authored various books during the past two decades. These include L'ai-Je Bien Descendu? published in 2007, Rick Owens in 2011 and Rick Owens Furniture in 2017.

17. Rick Owens likes to wear his own wares and travels with multiple versions of the same black pieces -- to avoid having to faff about deciding what to wear each day. He always sleeps in his own-design comfy black boxer shorts.

18. Rick Owens once noted that Michèle loves heavy machinery and said he was thinking of buying her a crane as a pressie. (Sounds much more giddy than a boring old box of chocs or a bunch of flowers).

19. Rick Owens seemingly has a bit of a thing for iconic/rebellious US rockers -- he apparently once said he'd be up for a bit of fruity man-love with Iggy Pop, and has also likened his carefully considered design process to the minimal chord changes that characterise Lou Reed's music.

20. Rick Owens described Michèle during an interview with The New Yorker mag as "a mesmerising sphinx. I'm fascinated by someone who acts completely on instinct and feelings, where I'm so pragmatic and sensible and kind of, compared to her, boring and conservative."

Mario Sorrenti and Alastair McKimm shoot Rick Owens editorial for i-D
Photography Mario Sorrenti, Fashion Director Alastair McKimm.

21. Rick Owens isn't one of those woe-is-me designers who moan and winge about how many collections and shows they have to produce each year. "I love the stimulation," he once said. "It keeps you on your toes, like boxing. You have to keep your eyes open all around you."

22. Rick Owens has super-cute ambitions for when he is an OAP. He revealed to Vestoj mag that ideally he would "like to end up in a garden with a wall around it, reading and playing with kittens".

23. Rick Owens goes to the gym every day and favours lifting weights over cardiovascular exercise, which explains his impressive sinewy physique. (He used to sometimes see fellow designers Marc Jacobs and Bernhard Willhelm at the same gym he used in Paris).

24. Rick Owens's favourite film directors include Satyajit Ray, Cecil B. DeMille and Ken Russell.

25. Rick Owens is known to occasionally bust some moves on the dancefloor at his fave club, explaining to Harper's Bazaar mag: "Dancing is one of the purest and simplest expressions of joy, and I feel a moral responsibility to enjoy it."

26. Rick Owens has admitted that his hair is naturally curly and quite grey, but with the aid of chemical straightening, a hefty dollop of Bigen Japanese dye and a squirt of Aesop shampoo, he rigorously maintains his trademark fab sleek long black locks.

27. Rick Owens likes his shows to be about much more than just his latest designs being paraded about on some models. "I like using the runway to express as much positive energy as I can get out there while I'm on Earth," he enthused to GQ.

28. Rick Owens once got chucked out of a Mexican drag bar named Plaza, back in his wild 90s LA days, for having sex with someone under a table!

29. Rick Owens always takes a 45-minute nap each afternoon, to refresh himself and refocus his energy.

Rick Owens covered in mud.
Self Portraits by Rick Owens. The Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes Issue, No. 307, Summer 2010

30. Rick Owens has admitted he doesn't get too preoccupied by what other designers are doing, instead preferring to look back at his own past work and find new ways to evolve it or improve upon it with each new collection.

31. Rick Owens is, however, a big fan of the designer Charles James, who, prior to his death in 1978, was one of the most influential womenswear designers of the 20th century. Rick also loves the work of legendary Hollywood costumier Adrian who dressed all the major female film stars in the 1920s and 30s and even designed Judy Garland's ultra-camp sequinned ruby slippers for The Wizard of Oz.

32. Rick Owens's famous fans include Kanye West, Michelle Obama, A$AP Rocky, Taylor Swift, Halle Berry, Liam Payne, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Janet Jackson, Cheryl Cole and Jaden Smith, to name a few.

33. Rick Owens is modest yet clearly chuffed to bits with his life as a designer, confirming to The Independent: "I'm lucky because I was in the right place, with the right people, at the right time... I truly love what I'm doing."