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Rick Owens Comes to London

American's leading fashion avant-gardist follows his recent New York store opening with a wax head on a plate in Mayfair.

Rick Owens is the mysterious and the mainstream brought together in one fashion designer. Visitors to his store in Palais Royal in Paris may be mystified by the Madame Tussauds wax scupture of Owens, which he installed himself; but that won’t stop them buying the sort of uniquely cut t-shirt or vest that eventually becomes a wardrobe staple because of the trademark sillhouette that Owens has been developing ever since he was making clothes in his native Los Angeles. Owens moved to Paris from LA five years ago and has been showing his collections in Paris since then. His European presence is about to be strengthened as he opens his first store in London following another recent store opening in New York. 

Dazed Digital : Opening two stores in one summer is quite ambitious – why New York and London and why both at the same time?
Rick Owens: It just worked out that way. Believe me, there was no master plan but once we saw how well the Paris store was working, we got into a retail fever.

DD: How many more stores do you envision for Rick Owens and are we to expect worldwide domination?
RO: As time goes on, you start wanting to see how it feels to paint with a different brush. I can't imagine airport stores, but then again, I never imagined going beyond Hollywood Boulevard. I'm pretty satisfied where I am. I don't have the pressure of a superstar under a spotlight, but I have a quiet corner in the fashion world and enough validating response to what

DD: The new Rick Owens store in London is on Audley Street, Mayfair. What attracted you to the area and that particular location?
RO: I don't know London that well, but there seems to be a nice mix there and I love being next to Sadie Cole's gallery.

DD: Do you want all of your stores to have individual concepts?
RO: The location and space really dictate the decor. Paris is plush and insulated in the Palais Royal. New York is bleak and open with a fog machine installation and London will have a waxwork representaiton of my head on a plate for a more classical mood.

DD:  What do you think about London in general?
RO: I think the young people are the most beautiful that I've seen anywhere.

DD: Would you ever consider moving back to LA?
RO: I haven't learnt French so I do feel a pleasant detachment but I'm in no hurry to go back to LA. There are so many other places I haven't lived yet and I haven't been back to LA for five years.

DD: Would you consider working for a house like you did for Revillon again, or would you prefer to concentrate on growing and expanding Rick Owens?
RO: I never would have done it to begin with but Revillon was a unique experience. I was mainly attracted to its connection to that Parisian turn of the century artifice moment and to the fact that I had complete control and freedom. It was a lovely experience but I'd like to just do my thing now.

DD: How do reconcile being ‘anti-fashion’ in your approach and simultaneously selling millions of pounds of Rick Owens clothes every year?
RO: Weird, huh? I know that I love fashion and admire energetic creativity but if I were going to buy clothes, I'd probably be loyal to someone who has a solid consistent vision, like Margiela or Hermes. Too many exciting twists and turns in a designers output is wonderful to see, but a bit frivolous for me to commit to. I would never in a million years compare myself to Mr Margiela or Hermes, but I'm very attracted to their example. Maybe I'm attracting customers like myself.

DD: Another disparity is that you sell basics like T-shirts and vests but at the same time you sell sculpturally fantastic clothes that are seen as being quite difficult to wear.
RO: I have a simple long silhouette that I started out with and still sell those same pieces the most since day one of my business. These are my foundations. But each season allows me to experiment with some new proportions to refresh my foundation. I can't very well propose the same thing no matter how satisfied I am with it. So if I'm gonna propose something new, it's gonna be a moment of a little madness.

DD: How do you feel about being labelled as the leader of 'American avant-garde fashion’? Do you feel you have any other compatriots who design like you do?
RO: I'm sure there are, but it's easy for anything unusual to be marginalised in American fashion. In Paris, risk taking is practically enforced.

DD: How are preparations going for the spring/summer 2009 collection?
RO: As time goes on, I've learn from past mistakes to be ready earlier and earlier. I don't relish last minute drama. So now, for better or worse, I feel like I've found my rhythm.