Our man Nabil Azadi visited Rick Owens during the chaos that is Paris Mens Fashion Week, the pair spoke about work, life, relationships and Rick announced he’s working on his first Fragrance, something we know will have his fans goooo’ing! Read on.
Rick Owens: So many kids around here…
Nabil Azadi: I know! Don’t you think the showroom is like a family hang-out now?
Rick Owens: It is! It’s just recently that everybody’s been having babies. In the last five years. Now we have so much family here. Two of my assistants have had babies in the last five years, and now a partner is on his third now. So it’s nice to have them around.
Nabil Azadi: When I was waiting for you to wake up and brush your teeth I closed my eyes and drifted off listening to the happy voices pouring over things and someone trying to stop a kid from getting Orangina on the shoes.
Rick Owens: You wait till lunch time comes around because…
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, I have been told about the pasta.
Rick Owens: With the smell of food it’s really cosy here.
Nabil Azadi: You know, it feels a lot like in the last few years there’s been a kind of solidification of something.
Rick Owens: Yeah, there has! For sure. I think we just got a better system and we settled into a nice rhythm. I don’t mean that to sound smug but we settled into a very nice way of working. I realised that I’ve been with these partners for ten years now.
Nabil Azadi: Ten years?
Rick Owens: Ten years! It was tricky when I first started because I did everything so independently. I had my insular little world in L.A. and it was just two people working for me. And then when I moved to Europe all of a sudden, when I hooked up with these partners over night… I was working in a factory in Italy with… not with a language problem but I certainly had some problems being understood which I wasn’t used to at all – this having to explain myself to people all day long. At the time I felt like I was supposed to delegate authority and trust a little bit and that was a big mistake because I kind of gave too much trust away and got mixed up and got disoriented a little bit because there were two many cooks in the kitchen, too many voices. And I was learning to do runway shows too because I’d never even been to a runway show before I did my own. So there was a lot to learn and I made mistakes and I didn’t really know how to get everything done in the factory properly, and how to get everything done on time, so a lot of time I wasn’t as satisfied as I should have been. I made mistakes. And I learnt that I don’t have to trust people. I don’t have to let people in. I don’t have to count on nice kids getting stuff done right. I can be completely maniacal, I can be very controlling and I can eliminate a lot of people. I can eliminate a press office which was a problem for me at the time because I was paying someone to remind me every day of where I stood in the fashion world and what I was supposed to do to get more attention for myself and that depressed me – I realised that I didn’t want this in my life so I got rid of that! And eliminating all of this stuff was risky because, you know, my partners were nervous thinking that we need this stuff and that we need help and I just said, “I really don’t.” And it was so great. It was so liberating. I feel like when I first introduced myself I blew it a little bit with my first collections just because it wasn’t fully resolved and ready and I didn’t really have full control – like I didn’t have full control of the car I was driving.
Nabil Azadi: Well, it’s a matter of knowing what tools you have in your toolbox. No success can exist before understanding what you have at your disposal, and that’s knowledge that you can’t earn without error. Perfectionism is often just forging forward quickly, and trying repeatedly. Waiting and slowly picking at an ideal doesn’t lead to progress.
Rick Owens: Completely. And being on time and starting earlier and being in control… Now, this last show, it’s different because it’s really… I start super early now and I’m really maniacal about being on time with things and having enough options. Nobody wants to hear me say that it’s gotten any easier… but it has because once you figure out how to work with all of this stuff and you have a relationship with these people like I have for ten years… we must have made progress. It’s great, it’s relaxing and we’re ready a couple of days before the show.
Nabil Azadi: I guess it’s as good a time as any to learn that skill.
Rick Owens: Yeah, well – I’m fifty! I should have figured it out by now, you know? So it’s very fulfilling to have that pace. And it’s not like it’s easy – you have to be early and you have to be ready and you have to be kind of maniacal every single day.
Nabil Azadi: So in a way Paris has been one of the most important rites of passage.
Rick Owens: Yeah, it really was. I mean it was kind of a sink or swim situation. I could have had a nice life in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t have been… I mean, I was very prepared to have a modest income and to have a modest life in Los Angeles and to do whatever I wanted. I was thinking, “I want to be Charles James.” I want to be doing exactly what I want, living in a kind of glamorous squalor.
Nabil Azadi: Bespoke dishevelment.
Rick Owens: Yeah! That was the thing of Los Angeles but that’s OK with me. I’m OK with that! I would never in a million years have thought of coming to Paris or starting to do runway or getting to this point. I didn’t even have the imagination to think that far, so all of this is very much a surprise.
Nabil Azadi: I think there’s a sense of focus that only started to exist in the last six or seven years.
Rick Owens: [laughing] Five.
Nabil Azadi: Do you think twenty years ago or back when you were copying patterns in L.A. that focus existed in you?
Rick Owens: I think I’ve always had drive, and a kind of inner-aggression that you have to have. You have to have an aggression and an ego because a lot of time you’re almost forcing people to do what you want and there are moments when I feel a little silly for insisting on a two centimetre ribbing instead of a two and a half centimetre ribbing but then I think, “No, this is my job and I’m meant to be anal about this stuff.” You have to be maniacal a little bit to make it work so I’ve learnt to accept that in myself, and to let myself be kind of a dick. That’s just part of the job. And, you know, I have young people working for me that speak three languages and kind of really have their shit together and I’m thinking that when I was thirty I was waking up under freeway overpasses and I was fucked up and I was a mess! And these young people are so together but on the other hand they’re often torturing themselves, saying, “What am I going to do with my life?” but I’m just telling them, “Relax! You’re fine. You’re in the right place at the right time and it’s all gonna come out fine.”
Nabil Azadi: That’s it! Not that I’m coming here in the search of life guidance, but I’ve liked your clothes for a long time and…
Rick Owens: Well, how old are you?
Nabil Azadi: I’m nineteen.
Rick Owens: You’re nineteen?
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, it’s the Iranian beard that disguises me as being older.
Rick Owens: You’re nineteen!
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, yeah. Hence all these questions about whether this focus existed when you were my age.
Rick Owens: Oh my God. You’re a baby! And you’re living in London and working as a journalist?
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, my parents are freaked out.
Rick Owens: Why?
Nabil Azadi: I think it’s just strange for them to have the family baby that far away from home.
Rick Owens: Oh, where are you coming from?
Nabil Azadi: My parents are Iranian but I was born and raised in Auckland, and I grew up there and moved to Australia.
Rick Owens: Why would you move to Australia from Oakland?
Nabil Azadi: No, Auckland! In New Zealand.
Rick Owens: Oh! Shouldn’t you have more of an accent?
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, I don’t know why I sound kind of American.
Rick Owens: You do sound really American! And you’re nineteen! That’s fantastic.
Nabil Azadi: You see, with clothing design you have a very neat parameter. You know what you do exactly. And I feel like that was so essential to why you were able to buck up and get your shit together. I feel like I’m fascinated by a few things and I find it difficult to give myself the same clear playing field as you or even to convince myself that I have to – and I had a feeling that you might have experienced that at my age.
Rick Owens: I don’t know, I don’t think I was. I wanted to be an artist at the beginning and I went to art school and that was a bit scary so I went to a design school to learn how to be a pattern cutter and I thought fashion would be fine, fashion would be nice. So I’m lucky. I had a hard time at your age, actually, because I was still living in Porterville in the States and I was having a hard time leaving this small town that I lived in because I wasn’t brave enough and I was letting myself sit and I was letting myself not make a commitment to take a leap. And of all people it was my mom who pushed me out of the nest in the most amazing way. I’m the only child and she’s a nice Mexican lady but she saw that I was going to sink in this small town. And for someone who was very conventional and conservative, she was very brave in finding out about an art school and pushing me to go. She didn’t even drive, she asked a friend of hers to take me to this school – and I think she was in league with my high school counsellor.
Nabil Azadi: No way!
Rick Owens: And it’s not like she dragged me but she arranged it all and she helped me figure out how to find a roommate in L.A. and she set me up and drove me out here and took me to school. And if you ever met her… she’s like the mildest, most gentle woman and you would think she would want her baby at home. So it was very gutsy of her and very brave her to do that and I’m always impressed when I think of it because it seems so unlikely. So I had a big boost because I was just gonna drip for a long time. Once that got done it took me a long time to get ready to do this. So I really wasn’t that focussed, you’re right. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I settled down and did what I needed to do. So you have plenty of time. Don’t worry about it. Besides you’re in a great place right now – I mean, being able to knock on any door and ask questions of anybody? That’s wonderful.
Nabil Azadi: That’s exactly it. I was telling my friend Michael yesterday that I was interested to see if I could prove a theory today. And that’s that I’ve had the opportunity to interview a few designers and only one of them before today has made clothing that I love for myself. And that was an interview that I did not plan for; I knew things about him and I had a sense of him – invented or real, who knows – but there is tangible connection between a person and what they make, and so if you get on well with the latter…
Rick Owens: Right! Theory proven. Hey, what happened with Raf Simons?
Nabil Azadi: I don’t know – I know he cancelled all of his buyer appointments and the collection is called the Fallen Prince or something, so maybe it’s the end? Or maybe something’s just wrong with manufacturing. Everyone’s being very dramatic about it.
Rick Owens: Super dramatic! I know him but I don’t know him well enough to call him up and ask him what happened. I remember years ago he wanted to talk to my partners about something. I’m really lucky because there are a lot of stories like this – like Albert Elbaz for instance. It just goes to prove that a designer is five percent of the equation. Someone like Albert who has been through I don’t know how many companies and it never worked, and it was always the same guy with the same eye – but when he got to Lanvin there was the right balance and the right people for what what he was doing and it clicked in place. But it took him five tries! But with me it took me one and it’s kind of a miracle in this business. And I’ve heard that – that I’ve landed in the right place. So I don’t take it for granted at all. Especially with your story about Raf.
Nabil Azadi: We’re all on a bit of a fortuitous path, aren’t we?
Rick Owens: You and me?
Nabil Azadi: No, I mean everybody.
Rick Owens: Well, not everybody is at the right place at the right time – I mean you are and I am and the two of us are but…
Nabil Azadi: Now I just feel like an asshole!
Rick Owens: Why?
Nabil Azadi: Because it makes us sound like we’re on a platform.
Rick Owens: No because we’re grateful. We’re not arrogantly saying that we deserved it, we acknowledge it. We’re grateful! How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Nabil Azadi: I’m the youngest of three. My brother is twenty-nine and he’s an investment banker in London, and my sister is twenty-four and she just graduated from studying law, and she’s going to be with me in London in a month so I can’t wait – she’s my best friend.
Rick Owens: You’re close! So your parents aren’t worried about you, you have family in London – you’re not all by yourself.
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, they’re wanting me to promise to stay in London for a little while before I move away somewhere if I do.
Rick Owens: [laughing] What’s so hard about staying in London? It’s one of the best places on the planet! Why would you want to move somewhere else right now?
Nabil Azadi: I don’t think I do.
Rick Owens: No! You don’t. It’s the centre of the universe for somebody young. I don’t know about New York, I don’t really like New York.
Nabil Azadi: I’ve never been there.
Rick Owens: There’s a sense of ambition and envy there that really gets on my nerves. But London! I’d really like to be young in London.
Nabil Azadi: You’re quite young?
Rick Owens: No, no, I’m fine, I’m just saying I would have loved to have been nineteen and in London.
Nabil Azadi: Being shifted around sometimes has the habit of making me feel like all the answers are outside of me – or like I have to look around myself a lot more to make the right move instead of just following my gut. Has designing settled down now again to variating on your theme? When you first moved to Paris I reckon the same thing would have happened.
Rick Owens: At the beginning of when I started here in Paris, I felt that I had to reach for more. I felt that I had to have more variety and I felt that I had to take more risks and after that, not really feeling right, that’s when I realised I can just pull back and I don’t have to look outside anymore, I can look inside now and it’s all there. I don’t have to flounder around and grasp. I don’t have to grasp. I’m a really late-bloomer because these are things that you are about to learn, or that you already know, and it took me till forty to learn that. So from forty to forty-five, that’s when I learnt all of this stuff and that’s when I learnt that everything I was going to make is already in me right now, and all I have to do is untangle it. Every season is just like untangling a ball of yarn and making sense of it and kind of finding a graceful rhythm to it, like an angle. It’s not like I have to struggle, it’s more like I have to untangle. It’s become more of a pleasure, a pleasure of…
Nabil Azadi: Decoding it.
Rick Owens: Decoding it, and turning it over in my hands for a while and playing with it and just discovering another angle. And it’s lovely. You know, I was at the Mercer and I was checking out and I was standing next to Marc Jacobs and we were just talking and I said, “Where are you going?” And he said, “I’m going back to Europe, I have to go do Louis Vuitton. And, God, you know what? It just never gets easier – it’s always hard.” And I’m thinking, “Oh shit! This guy’s been doing this for a long time – that’s kind of scary.” I’m finding the opposite – I’m at a great time in my life and I might be eating my words in five years, but at the moment it’s a lot easier. It’s a lot easier! I know what I’m doing, I know how to communicate with my group now. And the thing everybody underestimates is how long it takes to develop something. It sounds obvious but now I know that this is how it’s going to work: every season everybody waits until the last minute to get everything done, and then I’m going to change it. Then they’re going to freak out because I’ve changed it and I’m going to say, “You just showed me the first try! You knew I was going to change it two to three times, so don’t wait till the last minute to show me your first try!” But every season they do it, and every season I have to nip and everybody’s feet and it bothers everybody but I know that this is part of the system and it’s no surprise or stress to me anymore but it’s just kind of like – you guys knew that I wasn’t going to accept the first sample so don’t complain. But, you know, knowing know how much work it entails, it’s not an undefined spectre. Now it’s a very specific monster and I know how much wrestling it’s going to take – and that doesn’t make it easier but I know what the job is. I’m not surprised anymore. And before I was surprised and disappointed. Now I’m rarely disappointed because I pretty much know what I want and I know how hard it is to get it and that’s pretty great. Like I said, this is a great period but maybe five years from now maybe something will go wrong and I’ll forget what I wanted to do and I’ll get distracted and lose track… Because you see people do that and you’re thinking how can these people not remember who they are? It happens. Maybe it’ll happen to me…
Nabil Azadi: I like that you’re hedging your bets.
Rick Owens: But I figure I’m in a pretty good space right now so I think…
Nabil Azadi: I think we both just have to ride the waves we’re on. And you have the added advantage of knowing that your wave would keep moving without you on it for a fair while even if you weren’t doing a good job.
Rick Owens: I know I’ve got five years probably to keep on with and after that point if I started to go off the rails I know I’ve got five more years before everybody figures it out and runs me out of town.
Nabil Azadi: Ten good years!
Rick Owens: So I’ve got ten good years! I feel pretty good! If I started to turn out really embarrassing collections right now we have enough momentum that it would really take five years for everybody to cotton on, I think.
Nabil Azadi: And then you just go to Cuba. That’s the plan.
Rick Owens: Yeah! Or I’d just go back to Porterville.
Nabil Azadi: What is it even like there?
Rick Owens: Remember Gummo?
Nabil Azadi: Yeah? No way! Are you the kid in the bathtub with the bacon?
Rick Owens: No, I’m not sure if there was a character there who… I may have been the girl who was bleaching her eyebrows.
Nabil Azadi: Chloë Sevigny?
Rick Owens: I might have been her.
Nabil Azadi: Totally appropriate.
Rick Owens: So you can see why mom thought I needed to get out of town, and to go somewhere people would tolerate me. Actually my mom and dad are coming at the end of the month!
Nabil Azadi: That’s great – for the womenswear?
Rick Owens: Yeah, I bring them here for every women’s runway show, so they’re here twice a year.
Nabil Azadi: Does your mum like the stuff?
Rick Owens: It isn’t really her thing but, I mean, she just loves being there. And she thinks I’m a genius. So she definitely appreciates things. I don’t know who she would like, actually. She loves colours… She’s a nice Mexican lady who doesn’t understand why my house has to look like this exactly but she doesn’t criticise everything. She says, “It’s… funny that you’re so like this…”
Nabil Azadi: [laughing] Wow. She sounds kind of sweet.
Rick Owens: Oh, I did that figure… You know how I did that wax figure of myself?
Nabil Azadi: Yeah, that wouldn’t have gone down so well with them.
Rick Owens: Yeah, so my dad will not walk into the Paris store because he’s super moral and he’s worse than a priest. What did he say… “What the heck is that?” He wrote me this letter saying, “Richard, you’re a forty-five year old man – why would you choose to do something like that? Displaying your penis in public!” And mom looked at the mannequin – but she couldn’t in front of my dad because he wouldn’t let her – and she goes, “Well, I don’t know why you would do that but I think as long as nobody got hurt…”
Nabil Azadi: [laughing] Christ!
Rick Owens: And then she was going, “Tell me! How did they… Did you have to… Make yourself erect? For them to do that?” And I told her it was all from pictures and stuff, but they’re super cute. Anyway, they’re old! They’re like… ninety-eight now. And dad is such a pain in the ass. Don’t… Actually, he’ll never read this so it doesn’t matter, but he’s really… I was telling Michele the other night that it’s so hard with Dad because he’s kind of bigoted and kind of a Nazi and there are so many subjects that the both of us have to avoid in in order to get along and it gets very tedious. But I do have to say that he has bent over backwards to accommodate me in his life – I am morally, in a lot of ways, his enemy and everything he wants the world to be rid of, you know? He’s super homophobic and anti-abortion but militant – he’s on the internet debating with all of these people all the time. He’s very active in all of this. He’s very gentle and sweet – it’s very misleading. It’s one of those things that makes me realise how Nazism started – you can’t tell until it’s too late. And then you have to kill them! Anyway, so I was telling Michele, how am I going to find something in the end that I’m going to be happy to remember? I need to guide him away from so many things that what I can be happy about. I’ve had enough of this – it does not make me happy, it stresses me out and it does not do anybody any good. I don’t know – he has different priorities to me, but anyway Mom is good. So that’ll be good.
Nabil Azadi: Do you ever try and conceive what will happen if in ten years time things are still as they are and the family is just getting bigger and bigger, and you’re not nuts or incompetent yet?
Rick Owens: Yeah! Now I’ve started thinking that! I’m thinking now if…
Nabil Azadi: Time for a fragrance.
Rick Owens: I’m working on that right now!
Nabil Azadi: Oh, shit!
Rick Owens: That has been something I’ve been thinking about. But, you know, I just tell my partners, “You know what? I think I just want a boat. I think I just want a boat.” Because I guess I’ll be able to get another little house on the beach somewhere which is all I want and then I’ll get a boat, and it’ll be great. I think that Alberto Ferretti has a reconditioned army boat – so it’s not really a yacht but it’s kind of industrial and big. Wouldn’t that be great?
Nabil Azadi: Like a battleship?
Rick Owens: Yeah! A big, black primered battleship. You know, with enough of a deck to do a little garden or something.
Nabil Azadi: Totally!
Rick Owens: And it’s totally do-able because if Michele and I got tired of living in Paris we could sell this place and get a really big boat.
Nabil Azadi: And scare the shit out of the Sudanese pirates.
Rick Owens: Totally. There wouldn’t be much on the ship for them to want…
Nabil Azadi: Unless things progress to the point where…
Rick Owens: I’m kidnapped and held for ransom.
Nabil Azadi: And then, eventually, should you be decapitated, we’ll replace the head in the London store with your real head.
Rick Owens: No because they’d stomp on it. Speaking of that head in the store – it’s so beautiful. I’m having a hard time because I’m having one made for Japan for the Tokyo store – and the Tokyo store has been open for two years and it’s taken that long for this thing to be made because I wanted it to be a Godzilla figure. So it’s kind of my body turns into all of this deformed flesh with hair and cracks and stuff and it’s really disgusting, it’s great, and that took a long time to do because we had to find the right people and do tests and we had to change companies… Anyway, that part got done but now the figure itself: I go to London to have them made and this one company, once they do the first figure, has a mold of it but the problem is – and I don’t know what the problem is with who made it because the London one is very realistic, maybe even flattering, and the one in Paris is very realistic – definitely flattering – but the Tokyo one is totally off. It just has beady eyes and it’s so wrong. I’ve had to send it back twice – once because the irises were too small so I looked deranged… It’s one of those things where they have a system… Do you want to go outside?
Nabil Azadi: Let’s run. It’s crazy out there! People are getting really riled up.
Rick Owens: The only thing about this house is that there’s no back exit, so every time I have to run through and say hello to everybody.
Nabil Azadi: I was outside the door before, really sleep and struggling to open it and, you know that ornamental knocker on the right? I was fiddling around with that for ten minutes thinking that I was just going to miss seeing you and you were asleep!
Rick Owens: You were going to miss it and I was asleep and you were going to be fine!
Nabil Azadi: It must be very difficult to not get sentimental about your work when it’s completely attached to your life. This building’s a good metaphor for it – everything’s in one place: the press guys, the showroom, the atelier, you and Michele.
Rick Owens: Everything, even the furniture… You know, I tell Michele that I’m becoming a monster. My only kind of fear – not fear – but I’m training myself. I’ve been going through years and years of training, every day, about getting what I want and insisting on what I want. Me, me, me – why am I not getting this fast enough? I need this faster. I need. And I’m thinking that this isn’t very good training? What am I going to do when all of a sudden I can’t afford to pay anyone anymore and I’m sitting there, wanting all of my needs met, and there’s no one there to do it. It would be like being buried alive because you get used to the momentum and you get used to the satisfaction of response every day.
Nabil Azadi: That thought about not having people answer your needs. You have a kind of tunnel vision at the moment and that’s why you’re forging forward. You’re focussing, making, working forward and that keeping yourself in check or imagining what happens when you don’t have the resources to have tunnel vision… That’s a thought process that nullifies your abilities and impedes you and slows you down. It’s not possible to think like that and keep momentum.
Rick Owens: You know, I can’t even read anymore! I have a library full of books and all I can read is books about gossip. I just don’t have that focus anymore – there’s too much jumping around. Books about gossip and magazines.
Nabil Azadi: World of Interiors, right?
Rick Owens: Yeah!
Nabil Azadi: When I first worked in London when I was eighteen I got worked up and lonely at some point and didn’t want to spend much time with anyone but I was having real trouble sleeping and couldn’t afford sleeping pills – all I had was my cousin’s giant backlog of the World of Interiors so I used to flick through them slowly to knock me out.
Rick Owens: They’re so peaceful. It’s like a different version of People Magazine because instead of reading about where people went wrong… Oh, People Magazine isn’t always about when people went wrong, but the World of Interiors is about seeing what people do. What they really do. So many other magazines focus on what other people want to present to the world, but with interiors even though there are extra flowers and stuff you really get a sense of people’s real personalities and for how they express themselves. Environments are not that easy – except for Karl Lagerfeld who changes every fifteen minutes. Environments give so many clues to how people are and they’re such a secret way of spying on people – it’s great. And World of Interiors is the best of what people can be.
Nabil Azadi: This reminds me of how fascinating it is to see my friends try on clothes. I wear the same stuff all the time and so do they, but every now and then when we’re somewhere expensive and trying on things for the hell of it, I get a glimmer of what each person would wear if money was no object and it’s totally demystifying. It’s like seeing someone’s clothing totem.
Rick Owens: Absolutely! Or I often wonder how my clothes would end up if I had a Rothko hanging over my desk and if I had an Egyptian sarcophagus. If I went out and changed my surroundings that dramatically.
Nabil Azadi: Imagine if Michele did that! You show her some sketches and instead of telling you what she thinks, she alters your atmosphere in order to get what she wants out of it.
Rick Owens: [laughing] Our biggest fight was that piece right there – that Elliott Hundley – because she bought that at the Basel Art Fair a couple of years ago and she tells me, “Oh, I just bought something!” And I say, “Yeah? You did?” And she kind of showed me this guy’s work. “You bought that? How much did it cost?” And she tells me and I’m going, “You did? Really?” I was furious. I was super furious because it was like she brought a lover into our house and said, “Guess who’s moving in?” It was because it was something that we hadn’t decided on together, and it was expensive. I wouldn’t have done that – I wouldn’t have gone out and introduced something into our personal environment and expected her to accept it. You know, at this point I was thinking that you gotta let people be who they are and she’s like that and you’re not and so you can accept this because you’re easier about this stuff than she is, maybe, but it really pissed me off. I was saying, “I can’t believe you spent this much money without telling me first, and that you bought something that we didn’t decide on together and I hate it. So what are you going to do about that?” And she said, “Well, I want to hang it there?” But I hated it! “Why would you force me? I’ve never forced you accept something in our life. I’ve never forced you against your will to tolerate something!” She said, “But I really love it!” And I said, “But can’t we love something together?”
Nabil Azadi: That’s cute.
Rick Owens: Yeah, yeah. I said that I trusted her taste more than anybody else’s on the planet so I was sure that I would accept it. I assumed that I was going to learn to love it.
Nabil Azadi: And that’s trust!
Rick Owens: [laughing] It is! Well, it’s just a painting. She’s kind of… I’m very kind of tight and I need to have everything a certain way. So I’m telling her that we need to get this cleaned and that fixed and she argues with me. And I’m like, “What do you care? If you lived by yourself this place would be chaos with stuff all over the place, so let me have this!” It becomes a control issue.
Nabil Azadi: Playing ‘Who gets to call the plumber’?
Rick Owens: Yeah! Or who guessed it first. And I don’t really know how I feel about the painting anymore to tell you the truth because there are moments where it’s kind of… well, it works in here. There’s moments where I’m thinking that it’s kind of perfect to have something that’s kind of off and I really don’t know how I feel about it anymore. I got lost.
Nabil Azadi: [laughing] You want it to work.
Rick Owens: It’s because I want it to work! But every once in a while I still get pissed off. So my reaction to that… my revenge…
Nabil Azadi: Revenge?
Rick Owens: Hey, no – I’m telling you about how relationships work for when you get married. And we’ve been together for twenty-one years or something. Twenty-one years. So my reaction was, “How do I make something healthy out of this?” So I thought – and I don’t know why this made sense to me but I knew there had to be an antidote – so the other wall in the other room. The one you can’t see because there’s a huge mural on it? So Michele has one daughter, Scarlet, who we get to cater for us during the shows and I knew I wanted something very big, I wanted this mural so I decided to commission Scarlet because Michele is very eager for Scarlet to have a wonderful art career. We were going on vacation so Scarlet had to do this mural as a surprise for Michele but she had to do something that I want. It’s a huge wall – as big as this wall – so I thought: this’ll make me feel better. And it’ll hopefully void out the Hundley. And it’s something that will make Michele very happy and it will make me feel better. So I didn’t tell Michele though and I thought that she was going to think that Scarlett did it on her own so I told her there was a surprise. Michele said her first thoughts were, “Oh, shit! What did Scarlett do? Rick is going to be so pissed.” Anyway, that was an interesting exercise in compromise. So I don’t love it, but I think I see…
Nabil Azadi: A little bit of what Michele sees in it?
Rick Owens: Well, I can see maybe that there is an amusing element?
Nabil Azadi: [laughing] As close as you can get to a compliment!
Rick Owens: Yeah. Every once in a while though when there’s a big vase of red amaryllis in here… it’s pretty.
Interview conducted by Nabil Azadi.