JANUARY 2017

BITE ME — RICK AND MICHELE — ISSUE 4 ‘GRIPPED’ — BY CHRISTEL ESCOSA

MICHÈLE

SHE LOOKS EXACTLY AS SHE DOES IN HER PHOTOGRAPHS. TINY, WIZENED AND NUT BROWN, SHE WALKS CALMLY, CURIOUSLY; TURNING HER GREY–BLUE GAZE THIS WAY AND THAT, UNTIL IT ALIGHTS UPON SOMETHING THAT MIGHT INTEREST HER FOR A MOMENT, BEFORE UNHURRIEDLY MOVING ON, THE ENIGMATIC, WOODY AND SEXLESS SCENT OF SANTAL WAFTING IN HER WAKE. THE VESSEL THAT CONTAINS MICHÈLE LAMY THE MYTH AND LEGEND, DESPITE BEING IN ITS EARLY 70S, IS FULL OF A SERENE VITALITY. AND EVEN WITH THE LEVEL OF WORSHIP AND FANDOM AIMED AT HER FROM CERTAIN CIRCLES, LAMY IS LOW-KEY. SHE IS NOT SOME THIRSTY DEITY WHO DERIVES POWER FROM THE BENEDICTIONS OF LESSER MORTALS. SOMEWHAT SURPRISINGLY, EVEN WITH IT’S ACUITY, HERS IS NOT A GAZE YOU INSTINCTIVELY FEEL THE NEED TO SHRINK FROM.

AS INTERESTING AND FASCINATING A CHARACTER AS SHE IS IN THE CREATIVE SPHERE, AND AS FABULOUS AS SHE HERSELF HAS WRITTEN HER HISTORY, MICHÈLE IS WITHOUT AFFECTATION. PERHAPS IT’S THAT SHE’S BEEN AT THE RODEO LONG ENOUGH TO HAVE LET GO OF THE QUIETLY DESPERATE HUMAN DESIRE FOR NOT ONLY ACCEPTANCE, BUT ADMIRATION. LIKELY BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN AND DONE THAT A THOUSAND TIMES OVER ALREADY.

HER HANDS ARE SMALL, AND SHE HOLDS THEM QUITE STILL WHEN SHE IS SPEAKING; PERHAPS BECAUSE THEY ARE HEAVILY LADEN WITH RINGS, HER WRISTS MANACLED WITH HUGE CUFFS UP TO HER ELBOWS – THEY MUST BE WHAT KEEPS HER ARMS SO TONED. HER FINGERS, OF COURSE, ARE DIP DYED IN HENNA, A SIGNATURE. IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT THE DYE MIGHT PERHAPS HIDE CIGARETTE STAINED DIGITS, WHILST HER THROATY VOICE EVIDENCES A LIFETIME OF EXHALING CLOUDS OF SMOKE AND GLAMOUR.

MOST PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED WITH BEING INTERESTING. MOST PEOPLE ARE ALSO COMPLETELY UNAWARE THAT THE MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE, ARE IN FACT, USUALLY THE MOST INTERESTED. INTERESTED IN THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM, AND IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM, EVEN AT ITS MOST MUNDANE. DURING OUR INTERVIEW, MICHÈLE OFTEN ASKS ME QUESTIONS ABOUT MYSELF. SHE IS INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHERE I’M FROM, MY LIFE HERE IN HONG KONG, AND WHAT I WAS DOING BEFORE I CAME HERE.

SHE GRACIOUSLY GIVES TIME TO THE PEOPLE WALKING PAST WHO WANT TO TAKE A PICTURE WITH HER OR EXPRESS THEIR ADMIRATION OF HER OR TO TELL HER ABOUT THEIR LATEST PROJECT OR EXHIBITION. SHE WATCHES THEIR VIDEOS, LISTENS TO THEIR ELEVATOR PITCHES, AND ACCEPTS GUSHING COMPLIMENTS AND MESSAGES FOR RICK ABOUT, “THAT TIME THEY MET IN PARIS BACKSTAGE,”, AND FOR HER TO “PLEASE SAY HELLO TO SO-AND-SO FROM ME, HE’LL REMEMBER ME IF YOU SAY MY NAME!”. OTHERS DISCREETLY FRAME THEIR PICTURES FROM A COUPLE OF METRES AWAY, STRATEGICALLY FRAMING HER WITHIN THEIR SEFIES WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO ASK FOR A PHOTO. IN BETWEEN ALL OF THAT, WE TALK ABOUT DAY TO DAY THINGS AS WE SMOKE CIGARETTES AND CHAT, LEANING AGAINST THE HIP-HIGH METAL BARRIERS LINING THE HONG KONG SIDEWALK.


DO YOU KNOW MUCH ABOUT HONG KONG, OR ASIA, EVEN?

I HAVE A NEPHEW WHO LIVES IN SHANGHAI SINCE 12 YEARS, HE HAS A COMPANY CALLED PIG CHINA, THEY DO COMMERCIAL AND MOVIES SOMEHOW. HE STARTED HIS COMPANY IN LA. I’M FRENCH, BUT I THINK I’M MORE AMERICAN. THE ONLY THING IS, I HAVE A CURSE BECAUSE I HAVE THE ACCENT. BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHEN I WAS 12, I WAS SORT OF LEARNING ENGLISH, BUT I ALWAYS HAVE THIS ACCENT, AND I THOUGHT I GOT A CURSE BECAUSE IN A PREVIOUS LIFE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DID WRONG. BUT THEN SOMEONE EXPLAINED TO ME THAT THE FRENCH HAVE THE SMALLEST EARS, BECAUSE THE SOUNDS ARE ALL LIKE “SHOU SHOU SHOU” SO ALREADY AT 12, A LOT OF US DON’T HEAR A LOT OF SOUNDS RIGHT.

WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? WHAT’S THE MEMORY THAT YOU HAVE HELD ON TO?

I THINK REMEMBER THINGS FROM WHEN I WAS 2. BUT ALSO, YOU KNOW I WAS JUST BORN AFTER D-DAY. AND MY PARENTS MET IN THE RESISTANCE, SO THERE WERE ALL THOSE STORIES THEY TOLD. SO I HAVE A FEELING THAT I SORT OF LIVED THROUGH IT, A LITTLE BIT. LIKE, THE GOOD PART. MY PARENTS ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT IT LIKE, “THAT SUMMER THE PEAS WERE SO GOOD,”, THINGS LIKE THAT. AND YOU KNOW SOMETIMES, YOU GET THE FEELING THAT YOU HAVE MET PEOPLE, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I NEVER THINK ABOUT THE PAST. I ALWAYS THINK ABOUT WHAT I’M GOING TO DO TOMORROW, WHAT IS EXCITING ABOUT TOMORROW. LIKE HERE, I KNOW I COULD FEEL AT HOME VERY QUICKLY, BECAUSE I KNOW I WILL MEET THE RIGHT PEOPLE. YOU KNOW I AM HERE, FOLLOWING RICK WITH SOMETHING THERE, AND THEN YOU CAME IN THE PICTURE. AND THIS IS TO ME, A SENSE THAT THERE IS A FOLLOW UP TO THE STORY. I LIKE ENCOUNTERS. I ALWAYS BELIEVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS WILL HAPPEN.

SO YOU BELIEVE IN ENERGY? THAT LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE? THAT’S WHY YOU HAVE ALL THESE AMAZING ENCOUNTERS, RIGHT?

EXACTLY. IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING. I’VE BEEN LIVING FOR SO MANY YEARS NOW. IT’S NOT LIKE I’M FOLLOWING A TRAIL. I DON’T SEE WHAT I DON’T WANT TO SEE, IN A WAY.

IS IMMORTALITY IMPORTANT TO YOU? IN THIS DAY AND AGE, DO YOU THINK IT’S STILL POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE, LIKE PERHAPS YOURSELF, OR RICK, THAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE THE SAME KIND OF IMMORTALITY THAT MARIE ANTOINETTE, OR CLEOPATRA – IS THAT POSSIBLE?

I DON’T THINK SO! THERE WILL BE SO MANY WITH WHAT, INSTAGRAM AND SUCH I DON’T MAKE THINGS CHANGE, THAT THEY STAY IN HISTORY, AND I THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH SCIENCE, EVEN IF IT’S NOT WITHIN THE NEWSPAPER THAT RIGHT NOW, THE BLACK HOLE, AFTER THAT, WE DISCOVER THAT PEOPLE WILL BE ON MARS, NOT THAT I WILL SEE, BUT VERY SOON. THIS IS WHAT MAKE YOU CHANGE, AND AT THE SAME TIME WE HAVE THESE DISCOVERIES, AND AT THE SAME TIME, PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING FOR RELIGION FROM THE 8TH CENTURY, SO IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH THAT. FOR ME, IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO THINK WHY IT CANNOT BE A RELIGION BEHIND IT, SO WE GO TO TRIBES, AND WE WERE THINKING THAT WE ARE DIFFERENT TRIBES OF PEOPLE. BUT NOW WHAT IS GREAT IS THAT THE TRIBE DON’T NEED TO BE FROM THE SAME LOCATION, AND PEOPLE CAN FIND EACH OTHER IN DIFFERENT PLACES, AND THAT WILL CONTINUE A TRAIN OF THOUGHT, BUT I DON’T THINK I’M GOING TO BE BORN. I DON’T KNOW IF THAT’S IMMORTALITY IN THE FIRST DEGREE, BUT I AM INTERESTED IN THOSE TRIBE THINGS.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF PART OF A TRIBE? WHO IS YOUR TRIBE?

YOU KNOW SO FIRST, THAT WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT WAS TOLD IN MY FAMILY, BUT THE FIRST TIME I WENT TO NORTH AFRICA. I WAS 17, 18, AND I FELT I WAS GOING HOME. AND THREE WEEKS LATER, I WAS IN A TENT WITH SOME BERBERS DOING MUSIC AND I FOUND OUT THAT THIS PART OF FRANCE WHERE MY FAMILY IS FROM, – AND THE WAY WE LOOK ALSO – BELONGED TO SPAIN AT THE TIME. THE MOOR WERE THERE TOO, SO I HAVE BERBER AND MOOR GENES FROM LIKE, TEN GENERATIONS AGO, BECAUSE THOSE PEOPLE NEVER MOVED, OTHER PEOPLE JUST WENT THERE AND CROSS-POLLINATED.

MY OWN MOTHER, SHE WAS COVERING HERSELF WITH POWDER IN THE SUMMER. AT THE TIME, PEOPLE WERE GETTING SO TANNED WHEN THEY WERE WORKING IN THE FIELD, AND SHE WAS A LADY THAT LUNCHED! AND WHEN WE WERE KIDS, WITH MY SISTER ON THE BEACH, PEOPLE WERE TALKING TO US IN ENGLISH BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT WE WERE INDIAN. SO EVERYWHERE I GO, EVEN IN THE SUBWAY IN PARIS, PEOPLE TALK TO ME IN ARABIC, BECAUSE THEY THINK I’M A BERBER, WITH BLUE EYES. AND THEN WHEN I GO TO BALI, THEY THINK I’M FROM LEBANON. IN INDIA, I WAS LOOKING VERY MUCH INDIAN AND YESTERDAY ON THE PLANE, THE WOMAN TOLD ME YOU ARE VIETNAMESE.

SO I ALWAYS SORT OF STICK, WHEREVER I GO, EXCEPT IN PARIS, WHERE NOBODY CAN REALLY TELL WHERE I AM FROM, OR IN ENGLAND BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY MIXES. EVERYWHERE THAT IS SOUTH OF THE MEDITERRANEAN, I BELONG! SO ANYWAY IT’S GOOD, I FEEL LIKE I PASS.

IN THE LAST COLLECTION RICK DID, I READ A REVIEW WHERE HE MENTIONED THAT HE WAS INSPIRED BY HUMAN DECLINE. WITH THAT IN MIND, DO YOU THINK WE HAVE HIT PEAK CIVILISATION ALREADY, AND THAT NOW, HUMANITY IS IN A STATE OF DECLINE? IS THAT WHERE WE ARE?

I DON’T THINK SO. I THINK WHEN RICK TALKS ABOUT DECLINE, HE LIKES THIS FEEL OF DEATH IN VENICE AND THE ROMANTIC FEELING ABOUT IT. YOU SEE, RICK HE ALWAYS LOOKS AT DEAD ARTISTS. AND I ALWAYS LOOK AT THE YOUNGEST ONES. SO TO ME HE HAS A ROMANTIC VISION THAT IS, YOU KNOW, THROUGH THE BOOKS AND LANGUAGE THAT IS VERY MUCH ROMANTIC. ON THE CONTRARY, THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN WAR AND WHAT NOT, AND WE TRY TO DEAL WITH IT. BUT I DON’T THINK WE’RE IN DECLINE.

COMPATIBILITY. DO YOU THINK COMPATIBILITY IS ABOUT TWO PUZZLE PIECES FITTING PERFECTLY TOGETHER, OR IS COMPATIBILITY ABOUT ADAPTING AND MOULDING TO ANOTHER? IS IT ABOUT A PERFECT FIT, OR A MOULDING TOGETHER?

I THINK IT’S ABOUT PERFECT FIT. EVEN IF THE TWO ARE DIFFERENT, THEY FIND THAT THEY GO TOGETHER. SIMPLE.

ARE YOU SCARED OF ANYTHING? WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF, IF ANYTHING.

I DON’T KNOW WHY PEOPLE SAY THAT I AM NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING. BEING AFRAID IS NOT SOMETHING – I JUST LIKE TO BE SURPRISED. I WANT ALWAYS TO DISCOVER SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE TO ADAPT TO. THIS IS WHY, WHAT IS AT THE SAME TIME EXCITING AND SAD, IS THAT YOU COME HERE AND THE FIRST THING YOU SEE IS A GUCCI AD. OR WHATEVER AD, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. THERE IS A WALL, WHERE NOW IT’S ALL THE SAME. AT ONE TIME, WHEN YOU WOULD GO TO SAINT TROPEZ, THERE WERE SHOES THAT WERE ONLY MADE IN SAINT TROPEZ, AND IN 30 YEARS, IT’S CHANGED COMPLETELY. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THERE YOU HAVE ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHANGED AND CULTURE THAT IS DIFFERENT AND YOU PASS ON THIS GLOBALISATION — ”

[WE GET INTERRUPTED BY A WOMAN ON THE STREET SHE HAD MET THE NIGHT BEFORE. THEY EXCHANGE COMPLIMENTS IN FRENCH.]

DO YOU LIKE TO TALK TO PEOPLE ON THE STREET?


YES, I LOVE TO TALK WITH PEOPLE ON THE STREET. I LOVE IT.

CAN YOU VERBALISE MAGIC TO YOU? WHAT IS MAGICAL TO YOU? IS THERE ANY MAGIC LEFT IN THE WORLD?

I THINK THERE IS MAGIC EVERYWHERE. TO ME, MAGIC WAS, YOU KNOW, I JUST RUN INTO SOMEBODY. THIS IS WHY I LIKE TO GO PLACES ON THE STREET. LIKE YOU WERE SAYING ABOUT BEING IN THE CLUB AND SEEING SOMEBODY AND CREATING A STORY ABOUT THEM. EVEN IF THEY LOOK LIKE THE OPPOSITE THAT YOU THOUGHT. I FIND MAGIC IN THE SMALL WAY OF THINGS. IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MAKE YOUR MAGIC WITH.

FOR EXAMPLE, I FIND BOXING VERY IMPORTANT, BECAUSE ALL THE BOXING I MET A LOT OF PEOPLE. FROM THE FIRST DAY, WHEN I WENT TO SEE WHICH CLUB I WAS GOING TO AND FELT IT [MAGIC]. IN NEW YORK, I GO TO THIS BOXING CLUB, IT’S CALLED BOX AND BOOZE. YOU HAVE TO FIND A PATH. I’M SURE THAT WHEN YOU DISCOVER PEOPLE, THAT YOU KNOW IN A CERTAIN WAY, WHETHER IT CAN WORK.

WHEN I LIVED IN LA I WAS AT THIS CLUB, WORKING AT LE DEUX CAFE, AND EVERYONE WAS TRAINING AT THIS WILD CARD BOXING CLUB. AND THROUGH THERE, AT LEAST RIGHT NOW, I’M SEEING A LOT OF THE WORLD THROUGH THE RULES OF BOXING. EVEN THOUGH I HATE FIGHTS IN A WAY, THERE IS SOMETHING TO BEING NAKED IN FRONT OF SOMEBODY, AND TRYING TO ESCAPE. LIKE PLAYING CHESS. YOU KNOW, THAT’S A KIND OF MAGIC TO ME, WHEN THERE IS A LOT OF FEELS, AND YOU PUT YOURSELF INTO THAT KIND OF SITUATION.

I LIKE THE STAGE. I DO A LITTLE BIT OF STAGE NOW WITH CAECILIA TRIPP WHO IS A GREAT ARTIST. I NEVER KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO DO WITH HER, BUT THEN A FEW HOURS BEFORE, SHE TELLS ME WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. SHE SAYS “I HATE REHEARSAL, PEOPLE ARE NOT NATURAL AFTER REHEARSAL.”. SO I LIKE TO BE IN THIS SITUATION WHERE THAT MAGIC HAPPENS, MAGIC TO ME. WE DO IT TO MAKE A LITTLE TRIBE ALSO. I LIKE TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER. YOU KNOW I WAS SURPRISED AFTER HAVING THIS PLACE IN LA, LE DEUX CAFE, FOR 12 YEARS, AND THAT PEOPLE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT IT. SO IT’S THE SAME THING, A LITTLE STAGE, AND YOU SAY, “WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?” AND YOU DISCOVER THINGS. AND IT’S A WAY TO HAVE A PATH.

BOXING IS A DANCE AS WELL IN A WAY, BETWEEN PEOPLE. YEAH, IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING FAST ON YOUR FEET. DO YOU HIT PEOPLE? I HIT A TRAINER. AND THEY DON’T HIT ME. BUT THEY NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO THE HIT. YOU KNOW THE ONLY TIME, I FOUGHT – BECAUSE IT’S ALL BY THE WEIGHT, YOU KNOW – SO WHO WAS THE SAME WEIGHT AS ME? IT’S ALL THE YOUNG KIDS, MEXICAN FOURTEEN YEAR OLDS. YOU THINK THEY WILL UNDERSTAND THAT I WAS NOT DOING THIS TO TAKE THEIR PLACE? NO! THE FIRST SECONDS ARE THE HARDEST, BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW THEY ARE GOING TO MOVE. SO IF I’M IN THOSE FIRST SECONDS, I HAVE THIS RAGE IN ME LIKE I WANTED TO SLAP THEM, I ASK MYSELF, WHO RAISED THESE KIDS! WHO IS THIS LITTLE SHIT! BUT YES, IT’S LIKE DANCE. RHYTHM. VERY CLOSE TO HIP HOP.

DO YOU STILL GO OUT AND ENJOY THAT?

YES. BUT WITH RICK NOT SO MUCH. BUT WE STILL DANCE OUR STORIES TOGETHER. WE DON’T GO TO CLUB CLUB.

RICK

RICK OWENS AS AN AESTHETIC CONCEPT IS MONUMENTAL. THE CULT OF RICK IS FERVENT AND THE WAY MEMBERS REFER TO THEIR LEADER IS REVERENT. THIS WAS APPARENT FROM THE PILGRIMS CLAD IN TOP TO TOE FRESH-OFF-THE-RUNWAY LOOKS; THAT THE LOVE FOR RICK RUNS DEEP IN HONG KONG. DESPITE THE FRENZY THAT OCCURRED AROUND HIM, RICK WAS CALM, MEASURED AND ZEN. HE WAS PROTECTIVE OF HIS WIFE MICHELE, SQUEEZING HER SHOULDER AS IF GIVING HER SOME OF HIS ENERGY, AS THEY POSED FOR COUNTLESS PHOTOGRAPHS. HE RESPONDED IN A GENTLE, MATTER-OF-FACT WAY TO QUESTIONS, AND DELIVERED HIS STATEMENTS AND OPINIONS IN SOFT TERMS. HIS SPEECH WAS PEPPERED WITH ‘I GUESS-ES’, AND HE WAS ALWAYS CONSCIOUS OF THE FORTUNE OF CIRCUMSTANCE THAT BROUGHT HIM TO WHERE HE IS TODAY. COOL, CALM AND COLLECTED, RICK OWENS IS THE CHILL DAD THAT EVERYONE WISHES THEY HAD.

HE ASKED MORE THAN ONCE, SOMEWHAT WISTFULLY, WHETHER ANYONE PRESENT HAD ANY CHILDREN. HE AFTER ALL, CHOSE TO BIRTH HIS EPONYMOUS FASHION LABEL AS HIS CHILD AND LEGACY – HIS IMMORTALITY. NOW A FULLY GROWN MONSTER, RICK OWENS THE BRAND IS A WAY OF AESTHETIC EXISTENCE THAT GOES DEEPER THAN JUST CLOTHING. HE IS THE ORIGINAL HEALTH GOTH WHO MIGHT TELL YOU, “NOW I KNOW YOU MIGHT MAKE SOME BAD DECISIONS TONIGHT, BUT IT’S OKAY, AND IF YOU’D LIKE TO BREAK IT DOWN TOMORROW, I’LL BE HERE, BUT PLEASE DON’T VOMIT IN THE GREENHOUSE AGAIN, YOU’LL MESS WITH THE VENUS FLYTRAPS.” THAT RIGHT THERE SAYS FAR MORE ABOUT ME THAN IT DOES ABOUT RICK, BUT HIS AIR OF WARM UNDERSTANDING AND GENTLE ATTENTIVENESS WERE A FRESH COMFORT.

ARE YOU STILL AMBITIOUS FOR SOMETHING?

I AM. MORE AMBITIOUS THAN EVER, ALMOST. LIKE WHEN I GO TO THE FACTORY, I JUST GET ENRAGED WHEN I SEE ALL OF THESE MISTAKES. I’M NOT MEAN, I DON’T THINK I AM. I’M ALMOST MORE AMBITIOUS THAN I EVER WAS. WHEN I LOOK BACK AT THE STUFF I DO NOW, LIKE EVERYTHING THAT I FIT INTO A WEEK THAT WOULD HAVE TAKEN SIX MONTHS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER AND MORE ENERGETIC. IT JUST PROVES THAT YOU CAN REALLY RISE TO THE OCCASION, IF YOU HAVE TO. IF YOU DECIDE THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO SURVIVE, YOU CAN JUST COMPLETELY TRANSFORM YOURSELF. NOW I’VE LIVED IN PARIS FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS AND I HAVEN’T BEEN BACK TO LOS ANGELES SINCE I MOVED TO PARIS, AND I’M NOT EXACTLY SURE WHY. IT MAKES ME NERVOUS.

AMERICANS, OR LA?

LA. I MEAN, I GO TO NEW YORK EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE AND I DON’T DISLIKE IT BUT - IT NEVER WAS ME. THERE’S THIS SENSE OF VIP-NESS AND THIS URGENCY FOR SOMETHING. THERE’S THIS FRENETIC ENERGY THAT, UM, I ALWAYS THINK OF IT AS THIS VIP ROOM OF THE US, AND THEN WHEN YOU’RE IN THE VIP ROOM, THERE’S ALL THESE OTHER VIP ROOMS AND THERE’S A VIP CORNER – THERE’S THAT THING IN NEW YORK, AND THE VALUES THERE, IT’S GRABBY. I GUESS I WAS AMBITIOUS? I MUST HAVE BEEN AMBITIOUS. IT WAS AMBITION TO MAKE SOMETHING OF VALUE. IT WASN’T EVEN THAT MUCH ABOUT MONEY AND STATUS, BUT THINGS WORKED OUT. AND I’M NOT COMPLAINING.

IS IMMORTALITY IMPORTANT TO YOU?

ABSOLUTELY. I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO ALL OF US. THAT’S WHY WE GET UP IN THE MORNING TO TRY AND DO STUFF. THAT’S WHY WE HAVE BABIES. AND THAT’S WHY WE TEACH OUR BABIES THE VALUES THAT WE BELIEVE IN. THAT’S WHAT IMMORTALITY IS. AND FOR ME, I DIDN’T HAVE KIDS, BECAUSE I’M TOO SELFISH, BUT, DOING WHAT I’M DOING IS MY BABY. THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO LEAVE BEHIND, AND I WANT MY BABY TO BE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD. DO YOU GUYS HAVE BABIES? NO?

DO YOU THINK THAT IMMORTALITY IN THIS DAY AND AGE IS ACHIEVABLE IN THE SAME WAY AS CLEOPATRA OR ALEXANDER THE GREAT? IS THAT STILL POSSIBLE? [RICK LAUGHS WRYLY] LEGENDS? SURE. I’M SURE THERE WILL BE LEGENDS. IT’LL BE INTERESTING TO SEE WHO SURVIVES THIS GENERATION. THE WHOLE INTERNET THING HAS EVENED OUT THE PLAYING FIELD AND EVERYBODY HAS A VOICE NOW, AND I HAVEN’T RESEARCHED IT, BUT I THINK AT THE TOWER OF BABEL, THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME KIND OF RELATION THERE. BUT THEIR PROBLEM WAS, I THINK THAT THEY HAVE – I DON’T REMEMBER, I’LL HAVE TO GOOGLE IT AGAIN, BUT IT PROBABLY BEARS GOOGLING IN LIGHT OF OUR GENERATION. BUT YEAH THERE ARE SO MANY VOICES IN FASHION, IT’S OVERSATURATED, WHICH IS FINE, IT’S JUST TURNING INTO SOMETHING ELSE, AND THAT’S WHAT HAD TO HAPPEN ANYWAY. THERE’S NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT, BUT IT’S REALLY HAPPENING REALLY FAST. BUT THE FASHION WORLD IS WORLD.

DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT, DOES IT AFFECT YOU SO MUCH?

I SUPPOSE IT DOES, I MEAN, THERE’S A LOT TO REACT TO. IT’S KINDA GREAT ACTUALLY, THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO LOOK AT. I LIKE TO DO STUFF A DIFFERENT WAY, AND THERE’S SPACE FOR A DIFFERENT INTERPRETATION AND THERE’S GOT TO BE AN ALTERNATIVE WAY TO LOOK AT THIS. AND IF I’M LOOKING FOR IT, I’M NOT THAT UNIQUE, THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE ME.

I READ IN A VOGUE RUNWAY REVIEW THAT YOU’VE HAD THE ‘HUMAN DECLINE’ ON YOUR MIND THE LAST FEW SEASONS. ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS IS BY AN SCI-FI NOVELIST AND PHILOSOPHER CALLED OLAF STAPLEDON. HE WROTE A BOOK CALLED ‘STARMAKER’ THAT PROPOSES THAT INTELLIGENT EXISTENCE WILL FOREVER HIT A DISAPPOINTING PEAK BEFORE DEGRADING BACK ON ITSELF AGAIN, BEATEN DOWN BY AN INDIFFERENT UNIVERSE, AND THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, FAIL TO COMPREHEND OR REALISE THEIR OWN LOFTY YEARNINGS. AND SO HUMANITY RISES AND FALLS, AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. WITH THIS IDEA IN MIND, ARE WE TODAY STILL WAITING TO HIT OUR PEAK OR ARE WE ALREADY IN THE DEGRADATION PHASE?

LOFTY YEARNINGS ARE USUALLY PRETTY IDEALISTIC AND UNATTAINABLE. AS INDIVIDUALS, BEING SATISFIED BY HITTING REALISTIC PEAKS IS TOTALLY DOABLE. LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SO DRAMATIC.

I’M NOT REALLY SURE I BELIEVE IN ECOLOGICAL DECLINE. WE SEE CHANGES HAPPENING AND SOME DOORS CLOSING BUT I THINK THESE CHANGES ARE INEVITABLE AND SOME OTHER PORTALS START TO OPEN. I WAS MAINLY TALKING ABOUT HOW WE HANDLE THREATS – MORTAL OR ECOLOGICAL. HOW CAN WE NEGOTIATE TRANSITION IN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND GRACEFUL WAY?

CAN YOU THINK BACK TO YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY – WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HOLD ON TO THAT?

I REMEMBER LYING ALONE IN A FIELD FEELING PERFECTLY SERENE SURROUNDED BY WET HIGH GREEN GRASS. I SMELLED WET EARTH AND FELT THE DAMPNESS PENETRATING MY CLOTHES AND REACHING MY SKIN AS IF I COULD START MELTING INTO THE DIRT MYSELF. IT WAS VERY REASSURING AND I RECREATE THAT SCENARIO WHENEVER I CAN.

A CLOSED FIST IS A SYMBOL OF POWER, AGGRESSION, ANGER. CONTROL TOO. IT’S ALSO PART OF THE CONCEPT OF GRIPPING TIGHTLY TO SOMETHING. WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO LET SOMETHING GO?

I’M PRETTY GOOD AT LETTING THINGS GO. I DON’T LIKE A LOT OF COMPLICATION, CHAOS OR CLUTTER SO THE LESS I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE BETTER. YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED HOW SIMPLE MY LIFE IS.

CAN YOU TALK TO ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CONCEPT OF CONTROL? ARE YOU SELF CONTROLLED?

I’M VERY SELF CONTROLLED BUT THAT’S JUST A PERSONAL PRIORITY. I DON’T THINK ITS A BETTER WAY TO LIVE THAN OTHER PEOPLE, IT’S JUST A CHOICE I MADE. AND I AM PERFECTLY AWARE THAT IT IS A FANTASY. A COMMITTED JUNKIE HAS AS MUCH VALUE IN HIS CHOICE.

CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR fiRST THOUGHTS IN THE MORNING WHEN YOU WAKE UP? DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS?

MY FIRST THOUGHT IS USUALLY GRATITUDE, BECAUSE MY LIFE IS NICER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE. MY SECOND IS ANTICIPATION ON WHAT NEW DEVELOPMENTS WILL PRESENT THEMSELVES AND MY THIRD IS A SELF DOUBTING WEAKNESS, WONDERING HOW I MIGHT FUCK IT ALL UP.

HAS YOUR PROCESS CHANGED MUCH FROM WHEN YOU STARTED? ARE YOU A DIGITAL OR ANALOGUE PERSON NOW? DO YOU DRAW FOR PLEASURE, EVER? DO YOU STILL GET YOUR HANDS VERY DIRTY?

I NEVER REALLY DREW – I ALWAYS DRAPED AND I DRAPE AS MUCH AS I EVER DID. I JUST DON’T TRANSLATE MY DRAPING TO PAPER PATTERNS LIKE I DID AT THE BEGINNING. BUT I AM AT THE FACTORY HALF THE YEAR GOING THROUGH THE FABRIC ROLLS AND CUTTING AND PINNING AND DISCARDING AND STARTING OVER.

WHAT IS SIMULTANEOUSLY PLEASURABLE AND PAINFUL TO YOU?

GAUGING WHAT I CAN GET DONE BEFORE THE NEXT DEADLINE. BUT I DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR MYSELF FEELING PRESSURED. I FIND THE CYCLE STIMULATING.

HANDS VERY MUCH DEAL GIVE BOTH PLEASURE AND PAIN, AND TOUCH CONVEYS SO MUCH. ARE YOU A HUGGER?

I AM A HUGGER. I TRY NOT TO IMPOSE MYSELF TOO MUCH, NOT EVERYBODY REALLY ENJOYS BEING HUGGED. BUT I DON’T REALLY SEE HOW ANYBODY COULD BE OFFENDED BY A SHOULDER SQUEEZE OR BRIEF PAT ON THE FOREARM.

ARE YOU A VERY TACTILE PERSON? WHAT DO YOU FIND PLEASURABLE TO TOUCH?

OH MY GOD, DON’T GET ME STARTED. THE THROAT OF A WILD FOXGLOVE, WET CLAY, SWANSDOWN, MONEY...

WHAT IS A DIRTY WORD TO YOU?

I DON’T LIKE BEING TOLD NO.