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Darkness is a fashion kingdom, and Rick Owens is its Lord

With a strong personality and authentic style, Rick Owens is one of the most intense and mysterious designers of our time. Known as the Lord of Darkness, minimalist and extravagant Rick Owens has left his mark on design history. After growing up in California, he entered Otis College of Art and Design and dropped out, as many genius minds did. 

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Un post condiviso da RICK OWENS ONLINE (@rickowensonline)

He continued to follow design classes and began translating his love of art into fashion creations. He launched his clothing brand in 1994, and it was not until 7 years later that he experienced his first success after Kate Moss appeared wearing one of his designs in Vogue Paris.

His determination to take his brand to the next level led him to present his first show at New York Fashion Week in 2002. 

His collection was a reflection of himself, inspired by his love of the 90’s grunge, and led to his nomination for a CFDA award, which made him the winner of the Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Talent. That marked a defining moment in his career, and put his name in the record books for the first time.

Looks from Rick Owens' Fall-Winter 2023/2024 menswear fashion show

Looks from Rick Owens' Fall-Winter 2023/2024 menswear fashion show 

His ability to multi-task allowed him to rise to prominence when he decided to expand into different fields. In 2006 he decided to develop his men’s line, his fur brand Palais Royale and officially became a furniture designer.

Naturally, how could we write about Rick Owens without mentioning his soulmate and eternal muse Michèle Lamy? The two mystical creatures married in 2006 and have since shared a fusional relationship, becoming one of the world’s most recognisable and authentic couples. 

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The identity of the Dark Lord of fashion

Rick Owens has had an exemplary track record of success. After launching his brand in his thirties, he has maintained a rising success story ever since. He has made a name for himself in a fierce industry while remaining true to his vision and never bending to society’s conventions and trends.

Today, he is one of the few whose creations can be recognised without logos or monograms, but for his distinct signature details such as iconic platforms, long laces, or shaped shoulders.

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Neutral and dark colours are the brand’s symbolic palette, which he likes to merge into statement monochromatic looks.

His unique assertiveness and authenticity have made his brand what it is today. His intriguing aura and identity have created a world of its own, making him the king of his domain. I find that most designers today are stuck in the mindset of creating to please as many people as possible, which causes them to restrain their creativity.

Rick Owens is one of the most impressive designers for his ability to share his identity with those who understand his vision, which is why his name will go down in history, and his legacy will forever live on.

 

Bringing darkness to light

The Rick Owens brand is the perfect definition of simple complexity. His pieces blend minimalism and extravagance with a distinct grunge gothic feel through elaborate, geometric, almost dystopian pieces. He plays and experiments with unusual shapes and textures to create dazzling designs that have earned him great success. 

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Since its creation, Owens has always been at the head of his brand’s artistic direction. Model Tyrone Dylan has been working by his side on the collections for several years now. Yet Rick Owens’ designs are imbued with his wife’s essence and mystical aura, a constant source of inspiration for him.

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Over the years, Owens has maintained his strong personality and character through his garments, making his Maison one of the most successful independent brands 30 years later. 

Interior design has remained an essential part of the Dark Lord’s life. He leaves room for creativity in this field, inspired by the artists who left a mark on him. He has notably paid tribute to Allen Jones’ 1969 chair by using his own wax figure and displaying the controversial piece of furniture in his stores worldwide.

Rick Owens' tribute to Allen Jones’ 1969 chair

Rick Owens' tribute to Allen Jones’ 1969 chair

 

Celebrities & collabs

Today, Rick Owens is one of few designers who don’t take advantage of celebrity endorsement to promote his brand, which makes sense when understanding his profile and way of thinking in depth. Despite this, he is very popular on the fame scene, especially among those considered fashion icons.

A$AP Rocky, who has been named several times as the most stylish and influential rapper, quotes him in his track Peso: “Raf Simons, Rick Owens usually what I’m dressed in.” Other names in the industry also often wear his creations, such as Playboi Carti or the performer and clown prince Vanya Polunin, who first entered the Rick Owens family as a model for the brand’s Spring-Summer 2012 show before transitioning into its sales team.

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Rick clearly doesn’t need to chase after big names to gain notoriety. He says: “The coolest thing is when you don’t care about being cool anymore. Indifference is the greatest aphrodisiac – that’s what really sums up style for me.” In his eyes, the most important ambassadors of his brand are probably him and his wife.

He doesn’t believe in big advertising campaigns either. In terms of marketing, he believes the best way to promote a collection is through fashion shows. According to him, the show is the best way to share the emotions, the theme, and the story he wants to convey to the public.

Dr. Martens x Rick Owens

Dr. Martens x Rick Owens

Nevertheless, his collaborations are usually launched with dark, almost alienesque campaigns, such as his associations with Moncler, Converse and Dr. Martens. 

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Waiting for the Spring-Summer 2024 collection   

As usual, his latest menswear Fall-Winter 2023/24 show was presented at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and unsurprisingly served up a lot of eccentricities. Geometric silhouettes play equally well with skin-tight and oversized, while absurdly pointed epaulettes are a rendezvous on jackets, dresses, and bombers.

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We expect to see colours in the show taking place in a few days, since pink and yellow have been well represented in the Rick Owens spring-summer 2023 collection, obviously in a mix of shades to stay consistent with the brand’s vision and essence. Presented in June 2022, the collection’s set was designed with “three 2-meter-ish across orbs that were set alight by technicians, slowly lifted by crane high above us, and then dropped to a sizzling impact in the Palais de Tokyo fountain,” as Vogue’s Luke Leitch reported. There, Owens also chose to play with draping, layering and transparency, emphasising the silhouette of a very sexy and sculpted effect on the body. Should we expect another Apocalypse from Rick Owens’ upcoming Spring-Summer 2024 catwalk? Who knows. We certainly wouldn’t want to be anywhere but at the Rick Owens fashion show if the world really did end. 

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Romane Yehia
Fashion Styling & Creative Direction alumna, Milan
School
PARIS
Course
Programme
postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses