Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rick Owens in Town & Country

Regular readers of "Oh, By The Way" know that every January and June, this blog is turned over to the wild, wonderful, artistic fashion shows that happen in London, Italy, and France. And regular readers know that I am smitten with the amazing work of Rick Owens. Perhaps this Town & Country profile of Owens and his partner Michele Lamy--along with powerful portraits of Owens, Lamy (you can spot her in the third photo by her black henna-ed fingers, bindi-like mark on her forehead, and ARMLOADS of bracelets), and their creative staff--will explain in a way I have yet been able to why Owens is so noteworthy.

Rick Owens's cult of gothic glamour continues to draw surprising converts.​

By Liz Goldwyn

Photo: Max Vadukul

My first sighting of Rick Owens happened at Les Deux Cafés in the late '90s. Nestled in the back of a parking lot, Les Deux was an oasis of Gallic chic in gritty Hollywood, where hustlers jostled with movie stars for tables.

Michele Lamy, the French-born proprietress, held court, a tribal queen with tattooed fingers and lips, draped in raw-edged leather jackets and long skirts that trailed along the asphalt boulevards. Rick, her partner, a son of the San Joaquin Valley, looked like a tanned, muscular god, inky mane hanging down his back, impressive biceps accentuated by dark T-shirts of the softest jersey. I was intimidated by these gothic creatures, in awe of their otherworldly glow.

Rick and Michele bewitched all who laid eyes on them. Women clamored to buy the slinky jersey dresses and skirts Michele wore, which were made by Rick in their live/work studio across the street. The skinny elongated sleeves of his pieces became a discreet indicator of insider status. Michele was Rick's ideal model, her louche, laissez-faire sophistication the perfect complement to his aesthetic, which reflects a wide and surprising range of influences, from Iggy Pop to Oscar Wilde.

Photo: Max Vadukul

It wasn't long before word of Rick's designs spread beyond the confines of their court. Costume designer and mutual friend Arianne Phillips dressed Madonna in his clothing, beginning with her Ray of Light promotional tour, in 1998, and the New York fashion establishment took notice. Soon Rick started showing there, and in 2003 he moved to Paris to revitalize the centuries-old furrier Revillon with his trademark rock 'n' roll Cali cool. Michele flashed her gold-toothed smile at editors backstage at his shows, and the French too fell under their spell.

Rick became a favorite among women of means who preferred to telegraph their status in code—say, by wearing a $450 black cotton T-shirt, identifiable only to the trained eye, and not by a logo but by the drape. Vera Wang, Ellen Barkin, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn are repeat customers, and so are the Olsen twins, whose own label, the Row, pays homage to Owens's muted luxury.

Photo: Max Vadukul

His line is now designed in Paris and produced by the very best craftspeople, but it somehow maintains the dark glamour of his Hollywood days. His furniture designs, which used to be roughhewn tables and shelving made by hand, are now fashioned from bronze, alabaster, antler, and petrified wood, objects of sculptural splendor shown at Art Basel and seen in townhouses across the Upper East Side. They are as covetable as the leather jackets Michele wore at Les Deux back in the day, and as hard to get.

Still, he continues to provoke. Full-bodied dancers from U.S. step teams walked the runway for his spring 2014 collection; spectators at his January 2015 men's show were confronted with aspects of the male model seldom seen outside a dressing room.

There is a fearless, revolutionary spirit to this couple that reminds me of the 1968 student radicals in Paris, the art/drag scene in San Francisco led by Divine and the Cockettes, and the pioneer settlers of the West—conquering new territory, celebrating the counterculture, and proudly letting their freak flags fly.

Original article here:

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