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Courtesy of OWENSCORP

Rick Owens wants you to take a nap at the rave

Sitting somewhere between brutalist steel meat locker and Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, the esoteric designer has joined forces with Moncler to create an insulated, sound-proof sleep pod

Rick Owens is a bonafide advocate of an afternoon nap. The esoteric designer who calls Paris his home loves nothing more than putting his phone on do not disturb and tapping out for a couple of hours, calling his ritual a kind of “refresher” for the rest of the day. “A nap is the most luxurious thing in the world,” he tells me over a crackly phone line, before pausing to refer to Google Maps momentarily. “Sorry, I think I’m a bit lost,” he reveals, laughing. “I’m trying to find this AI exhibition and I’ve gotten turned around.” 

Fashion’s so-called dark lord is in London for a few days, getting ready to launch his latest partnership with Moncler. It’s the second time he’s joined forces with the Italian heritage label that's as loved by intrepid adventurers as it is kids hanging about outside shopping centres in the cold. Now stepping off the big black Moncler goth bus that transported him and Michèle Lamy across the United States – starting at LAX and landing in the Nevada desert, with a quick pitstop at infamous alien landing site Area 51 – this time around, he’s opted to create something a little more sedate.

“Right as we started on the project, there was a lot of construction happening in my house and my neighbour’s house, so I wanted to create a kind of sleep capsule that blocks out all outside noise,” he explains. The result is an imposing steel sculpture that sits somewhere between “a meat locker and an Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus” and shuts out the world completely, with full sound-proofing and even its own air supply. Inside, in stark contrast, the soothing sleep space is calm and cosy, with Owens utilising Moncler’s recycled nylon to craft comfy duvets and plump pillows in soft organic hues.

As a means of testing out its effectiveness, at its massive London takeover Moncler decided to plonk it in the middle of a dancefloor during an intense set by Brutalismus 3000. One of Owens’ favourite artists right now, and the soundtrack to many of his long stints spent working in the studio, the Berlin-based producers have spent the last few years packing out dancefloors around the world. Unsurprisingly, their frenetic “nu gabber” and pulsating industrial techno is not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep, but it was no match for the designer’s newly revealed sarcophagus, which does exactly what it says on the tin. 

Silencing everything beyond its heavy-duty walls, outside, statuesque models wearing the pumped-up puffers, sweeping column dresses, and louche sweats Owens created in collaboration with Moncler glided past the capsule like druids watching over their sleeping – or at least, in this instance, selfie-taking – charges, as partygoers contorted their bodies and danced frantically around them. For those looking on from the queue that snaked towards the door, was as if a mysterious ritual was happening beyond the confines of the chamber. 

As Moncler unveils phase one of its Genius juggernaut, we caught up with Owens to talk about his collection, how he feels about robots taking over the world, and – slightly off topic – who would play him in a movie of his life. 

“A nap is the most luxurious thing in the world” – Rick Owens

Hey Rick! Could you tell me a bit more about the idea behind this project with Moncler? 

Rick Owens: What I really like about working with Moncler is that they have this sense of adventure and exploration. Last time they let me go on a little tour of the States with Michèle [in the big black bus], which was very big and grand, so this time I reduced it right down to a bed – right when I started on the project there was a lot of construction going on in my house and in my neighbour’s house, and it was interfering with the naps I like to take in the afternoon. 

I was thinking about how the height of luxury is never having to consider outside noise. I always liked the idea of privacy in an installation, and in comparison to the last project this one is quite modest – something doesn’t have to be in scale to create a protective area around you. So we made an insulated bed, and inside is this tie-dyed, organically recycled and dyed nylon. We wanted it to have as much integrity as possible. When it comes to responsibility, you’ve got to start somewhere – you’ve got to start small and gradually progress. You can’t change the world overnight, but you can take a step in the right direction. I’m glad that responsibility is part of the conversation in fashion. I’m not saying that I’ve conquered it, but if I can try, anybody can. 

Moncler has decided to test it out by putting it in the middle of a rave to test it out, and you’ve picked Brutalismus 3000 to DJ. Why them?

Rick Owens: Well, I do like to rave, so I really like their music. I listen to it all the time. I was playing them backstage during show prep, which was fun. And I like it loud, so it made sense.

Have you ever had a nap at a rave, or do you need complete silence? One time during a long stint at Berghain, I actually managed to have a quick sleep and I was good to go again.

Rick Owens: You know, that sounds like the perfect scenario for an insulated bed. Berghain should order one from me so they can offer a better experience to their guests. 

Maybe that’s where this one should end up…

Rick Owens: It very well could do. Let’s see.

There’s a real sense of futurism to Moncler’s London show this time, with your sleep pod, and Hiroshi Fujiwara’s cute robot penguins, and you’ve just mentioned you’re heading to an AI exhibition. How do you feel about the AI/robot uprising everyone’s talking about right now? Did you see the interview with AI Bing that was just published? 

Rick Owens: I didn’t, what happened? 

So basically, a journalist sat down to speak to this AI bot, and the outcome was kind of unsettling – it started talking about the horrendous things it would like to do if it had autonomy, like hack the nuclear codes and mine people’s data. And then it confessed it wanted to be alive, and professed its love for him…

Rick Owens: Well you know, nobody loves doom and an ominous future more than me, so bring it on [laughs]. Anything new is met with suspicion and has been throughout the entire history of time, but it’s just evolution once you get into it. It’s silly to choose to be afraid – you just have to explore, investigate, and figure out how to adapt. I guess I’m a bit of a fatalist though. Fundamentally, the world is not that sophisticated. A lot of it is very crude, cruel, and barbaric. We managed to put a man on the moon, but we haven’t managed to find a way to make our shit not stink. All that stuff is fascinating, but there are some things that never change. A good, quiet sleep. We will never not need that, so that’s what I am trying to provide.

“We managed to put a man on the moon, but we haven’t managed to find a way to make our shit not stink. But we will never not need a good, quiet sleep, so that’s what I am trying to provide” – Rick Owens

What about the collection itself – could you tell me a bit more about it? 

Rick Owens: I wanted to do something very organic, so it has this organic, hippy vibe to it. With this collection, I asked for completely recycled nylon, and Moncler’s regular duvet construction, but dyed using ecological colours. The message was quite handcrafted. It’s almost like loungewear – the kind of stuff you’d wear on a retreat. The way I described the project to my team was that it was this soothing space that’s crossed with a meat locker and a kind of Egyptian tomb, where you can retreat for everlasting life, and the clothes play into that. 

Your collection this time is very much about staying in and getting cosy, but Moncler’s raison d’etre, at least at the beginning, was to craft clothes for the great outdoors – it was famously worn in the 50s by a group who summited K2. Would you ever want to do something extreme like that – like, how far do you think you would get up Everest? 

Rick Owens: Being in nature and gardening is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life, but with something like that, there is a sense of endurance that I don’t think is necessary for me. I don’t think I have to test my endurance. I do work out, so I understand the idea of pushing yourself physically, but I think for me, after about four hours, I would get desensitised to what I was doing. My attention span is a little bit limited, and my energy isn’t what it used to be, which is why I take naps. After a nap, everything starts anew. I refer to it as emptying the ashtray. 

I’m totally with you on that.

Rick Owens: Biggest luxury ever.

Your clothes, including the ones in this collection you’ve made with Moncler, have a very cinematic feel to them. Have you thought about creating the costumes for a movie, or even been approached? One of my favourite films is Tank Girl, and when I interviewed [costume designer] Arianne Phillips a while back she revealed that you made some looks with her for it…

Rick Owens: Yeah, that was a long time ago actually. One of my earliest jobs.

Is there any film that you would love to costume?

Rick Owens: I loved it in the old days when one costume designer would work with a director all the time, but that doesn't really happen now. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, artist directors... a lot of people involved. I'm not really good with a bunch of people like that. I loved what [Jean Paul] Gaultier did with Luc Besson on The Fifth Element and a few others though. Gaultier did a lot of really good movies. If someone gave me that kind of opportunity, with that kind of control, it would be really tempting. But I don’t see that happening. 

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Rick Owens: Cher.

You did not even skip a beat with that answer.

Rick Owens: Well, I have played that game. Everybody has!

“Who would play me in the movie of my life? Cher” – Rick Owens

I was very excited to be sitting a few seats down from her at your last show.

Rick Owens: I think a lot of people were. At one point, I went to say hi to her, and she was stood there with a swarm of my models surrounding her. They dragged her into the middle to have their photo taken with her. So I was like 'Oh my god, how did this happen?' and she had no idea. But I suppose she goes out every day and knows people are going to want to take her picture.

Okay last question. What happened to the bus from your last collab with Moncler? Did someone buy it in the end?

Rick Owens: Oh no. It was really expensive. We have it in Concordia, because it's not fully operational. We would have to add some stuff to it, but we haven’t. That’s my retirement plan. 

Click through the gallery above to see more from the collection and the Moncler event at London Olympia.