Clothier Rick Owens returns to LA after a 16-year absence

Rick Owens, the designer known for his Gothic-Glam-Grunge aesthetic, grew up in Porterville, California and rose to rock star status in the fashion world from his Parisian studio.

However, he started his career (and founded his label of the same name) in Los Angeles, a city he hasn’t set foot in platform for more than a decade and a half, even though he opened a flagship store here in 2015, week that is.

It was around this time that Owens and his wife and business partner Michèle Lamy came to the City of Angels for five days of activities that included celebrity dinner parties, revisiting old places, and reconnecting with old friends.

The visit culminated in a packed book signing party on the night of Owens ’58 on Monday night. Birthday at Owens’ La Brea Boulevard Boutique for two recently published books by Rizzoli, “LeGaspi by Rick Owens”, about the designer, the Owens-inspired Fall and Winter 2019 collection and the photo book “Rick Owens Photographed by Danielle Levitt”.

LeGaspi by Rick Owens

A book signing for “LeGaspi”, one of two books that Rick Owens published about Rizzoli in September, was the official reason the fashion designer returned to Los Angeles after 16 years, where he began his journey to become the rock star of the fashion world.


Between a personal book signing with comedian Dave Chappelle (who had a flight to catch) and a full-blown Owens feast with more than 100 book buyers snaking out the door and through the parking lot. Anytime Owens sat down with The Times to talk about why he’d stayed out of LA for so long – and how it felt to come back. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

What have you been doing since you arrived in Los Angeles four days ago?

We went to the Hollyhock House which was lovely. It wasn’t until after we moved that I developed an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright – which is strange – so I’d never been there. We did everything: went to the beach, went downtown, went to some museums and back to the places we used to live just to look around.

How has Los Angeles changed since you left?

Hollyhock House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Hollyhock House, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1920s, was one of the places Rick Owens visited on his first trip to Los Angeles in more than a decade and a half.

(Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

Maybe i am [being] a bit clueless because I keep thinking that things haven’t changed that much. People say, “Los Angeles has changed so much [and] The traffic is awful now ”, but [L.A.] seems the same as always and the traffic isn’t that bad. What’s funny is that LA actually feels a little smaller.

How does it feel to be back after such a long time?

When we lived at Chateau Marmont 20 years ago, we had a room in the back above the kitchen, and the room we now live in is two floors above that room and has the same configuration. So something happened that is not emotional, but nostalgic, and it triggers the memory because we are living in that dynamic again together, and it was super cute. When we opened the windows there was that particular smell – a combination of plants, alley and hotel – that set off a lovely rush of memories.

So are you enjoying it

I really enjoy it. I was a little scared to go back to LA a bit and it was very cute. That sounds a bit dramatic I think, but I feel like I’m breaking the ice and will be here all the time now.

Why exactly were you gone for so long?

It’s like seeing a picture of yourself with strange bangs or braces on [and] They flinch a little over your vulnerability. I think that was kind of what I associated with Los Angeles – not being fully formed and kind of messy and not who I wanted to be fully. So I didn’t want to repeat that so much.

The Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, California

Owens and his wife lived at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood decades ago. The designer says staying in mid-November “sparked a wonderful rush of memories”.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

What did this make at the right time for a return visit?

After the signatures in Seoul, Paris, London and New York, I thought, “This is really fun! That would be a fun thing in LA. ” [and because] I hadn’t been to LA [in a long time] That would be a good excuse for the final. But it wasn’t like we planned it from the start. It was kind of spontaneous. The great thing is like having a party and it’s a chance to see so many people in a very clinical, controlled way. I can have one-on-one time to have a personal conversation [meeting] and a selfie with everyone, which is a little clinical but nice.

So that the wincing vulnerability and feeling of being chaotic and not fully formed go away?

I went to a nightclub on Friday and remembered living in LA I was a bit scared or nervous before going out. And now I’m 50-… -8. I was just so relaxed and enjoying the moment and looking forward to going. I said, “Well that’s fifty-eight. Relax and learn to enjoy it.” I have overcome many fears. But I’m a little insincere because I’m obviously in a different position now and I’m pretty sure everyone will be really nice to me. And it’s my birthday. So what do you have to worry about?

Speaking of birthdays, does that affect how you feel when you get back?

It’s satisfying to be older and feel like you’ve done a ton of things that you didn’t think you would [get done]. It is very grateful that I am coming back in better circumstances than I ever thought. This part is very fulfilling. Rethink what you do [once] viewed as a weakness and somehow confirmed. It’s almost biblical, this returning thing.

Does that mean you’re visiting Los Angeles more often now?

We are looking for property! But we always do that. [Michèle and I] were in Cairo a few months ago and said, “We totally live here.” But that was another reason I wasn’t in a rush to come back. … I can totally see [myself] land here. I mean it’s idyllic. It’s utopian. It really is the best of all worlds. … But it should definitely be near the ocean. I can’t be away from the beach.

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