JUNE 2013

GQ – JUNE 2013 – “STYLE ISN'T EVERYTHING”: A CONVERSATION WITH RICK OWENS – BY MICHAEL HAINEY

GQ: WHY AREN'T YOU HOME WORKING?

RICK OWENS: I'M DONE. [LAUGHS]

GQ: YOU'RE ACTUALLY ONE OF THE FEW GUYS WHO MANAGES TO GET IT ALL DONE AHEAD OF TIME, RIGHT? ?

RO: YOU KNOW, I'M 50. AFTER TEN YEARS OF DOING THIS, YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE YOUR SHIT TOGETHER A LITTLE BIT. AND, I MEAN, I'M NOT SAYING IT'S PERFECT, BUT I'VE DONE THE BEST I CAN, AND NOW I HAVE TO LET IT GO.

GQ: WHEN YOU GET DRESSED IN THE MORNING, DO YOU HAVE A VISION OF WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO WEAR THAT DAY?

RO: YEAH, I DO. BECAUSE I HAVE TWENTY OF THE SAME THING, I WEAR THE SAME OUTFIT EVERY SINGLE DAY. I CAN'T IMAGINE HAVING TO CHOOSE CLOTHES IN THE MORNING. IT WOULD DRIVE ME CRAZY. I MEAN, I FOUND ONE THING I LIKE AND THEN I PROBABLY HAVE TWENTY OF IT. I CHANGE IT A LITTLE BIT EVERY YEAR, MAYBE, BUT IT'S BASICALLY THE SAME THING. IT'S BEEN THE SAME THING FOR A LONG TIME. YOU KNOW, IF IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR MR. [AZZEDINE] ALAÏA, IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.

GQ: IS THERE A SENTIMENTAL PIECE OF CLOTHING IN YOUR HOME, SOMETHING FROM WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG BOY?

RO: THERE'S A MONKEY COAT, A MONKEY FUR COAT THAT I USED TO WEAR IN MY YOUNGER DAYS THAT MY WIFE MICHELE [LAMY] WEARS NOW, THAT I LIKE TO SEE. THAT'S ABOUT THE ONLY THING THAT'S SENTIMENTAL THAT I'VE HAD FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL MONKEY FUR COAT WITH KIND OF BIG SHOULDERS. I'M NOT REALLY AS FLAMBOYANT AS I USED TO BE, SO I DON'T, I DON'T WEAR…

GQ: IN HIGH SCHOOL, DID YOU HAVE A KILLER PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU HAD THEN?

RO: HIGH SCHOOL…YOU KNOW, THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, AND I DON'T REALLY REMEMBER IT FONDLY, SO I PROBABLY DIDN'T. I REMEMBER LIKING NOT WEARING SHOES FOR A LONG TIME.

GQ: REALLY?

RO: YEAH, I REMEMBER THAT THE COOLEST THING WAS NEVER TO WEAR SHOES ANYWHERE.

GQ: SO WERE YOU LIKE SPICOLI AT THAT POINT?

RO: WELL, NOT AS GOOD-LOOKING, I DON'T THINK, BUT I'D LIKE TO HAVE BEEN. I THINK I WAS AIMING FOR THAT.

GQ: WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST?

RO: ARCHITECTURE.

GQ: ANYTHING SPECIFICALLY THESE DAYS?

RO: IT'S NOT CONTEMPORARY. I MEAN, I LIKE VINTAGE THINGS BECAUSE I LIKE SEEING A BODY OF WORK. THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT LIKE CONTEMPORARY ART AND PEOPLE THAT LIKE OLD ART, AND I LIKE OLD ART. CONTEMPORARY ART I ENJOY LOOKING AT, BUT I CAN'T REALLY INVEST EMOTIONALLY IN SOMETHING THAT I DON'T FEEL IS A FINISHED STORY, AND WHEN PEOPLE GET EXCITED ABOUT MODERN ART I FEEL LIKE THERE'S AN ELEMENT OF GAMBLING AND STATUS INVOLVED. I LIKE SEEING SOMETHING DONE. THE OLD SPECTRUM OF SOMEBODY'S BODY OF WORK, I LOVE THAT.

I LIKE ART FROM THE THIRTIES A LOT. THE THIRTIES AND TWENTIES. I MEAN, IF I'M TALKING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE, I LIKE ROBERT MALLET-STEVENS. I LIKE— WHO'S THAT ONE WHO JUST DIED, THE ONE WHO JUST DIED WHO DID— NO, LE CORBUSIER DID BRASILIA, RIGHT?

GQ: NO, THAT WAS THE GUY WHO'S 101 WHO JUST DIED. AND HE DID THE BRASILIA THING.

RO: AND HE LIVED IN RIO DE JANEIRO. WHY CAN'T WE REMEMBER?

GQ: WHY CAN'T WE? BECAUSE WE'RE BOTH 50 YEARS OLD; WE GET OLD [LAUGHS].

RO: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. [ED NOTE: OSCAR NIEMEYER IS THE ARCHITECT IN QUESTION.]

GQ: IF YOU HAD TO PICK A SONG THAT DEFINES YOU, DO YOU HAVE ONE?

RO: WAGNER. IT WOULD BE SCHMERZEN, ONE OF THE WESENDONCK LIEDER FROM WAGNER, AND THAT'S WHAT I PLAYED IN MY LAST WOMEN'S SHOW. I FINALLY USED IT IN A SHOW. AND THAT'S BEEN AN IMPORTANT SONG TO ME SINCE I WAS YOUNG. SO THAT'S THE SONG THAT WOULD DEFINE ME.

GQ: HOW DID IT BECOME IMPORTANT TO YOU?

RO: WHEN I WAS YOUNG, IT SWEPT ME AWAY AND IT MADE ME THINK ABOUT SOMETHING BIGGER THAN WHERE I WAS.

GQ: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A MAN IS THE KEY TO FINDING OR DISCOVERING HIS PERSONAL STYLE?

RO: I HAVE NO IDEA. MAYBE IT'S NOT THAT IMPORTANT. MAYBE PERSONAL STYLE REALLY ISN'T THAT IMPORTANT. IF IT'S NOT A PRIORITY FOR YOU AND YOU HAVEN'T FOUND IT ALREADY, THEN GO THINK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE. STYLE ISN'T EVERYTHING.