T Magazine | Rick Owens on Fast Fashion, His Physical Connection to Clothes — and More

T Magazine | Rick Owens on Fast Fashion, His Physical Connection to Clothes — and More

The designer Rick Owens is no stranger to iconoclastic fashion shows, but his fall/winter 2016 collection, presented yesterday in Paris, made one of his biggest, most personal statements to date. For this collection, entitled “Mastodon,” Owens was thinking a lot about the bigger picture, specifically evolution, uneasiness with regards to the changing environment, even our own extinction — and coming to terms with it all. He spoke with T backstage before the show.

Are you usually this calm before your show?

We’ve been doing this long enough that we’re kind of organized. I have a fantastic team. I hate being late. I hate hysteria. I hate last-minute drama. So we’ve done everything to avoid it. At this point, it’s all done. So it’s just fun. And I’m not really nervous about the reception because I like it and I feel O.K. about it, so if people like it, that’s great. If some people don’t, that’s O.K. too.

To read the story on T Online: http://nyti.ms/1LZ3KYh

Can you tell me about this collection?

I gave it the name “Mastodon” because I was interested in evolution. And the evolution of fashion, and evolution in general, because there’s a bit of uneasiness about the environment. It manifested itself one time I was in Italy, and I came home, and suddenly we had beehives on the roof. Michele was like, “Oh, I installed beehives on the roof.” She’s not very sentimental, and she’s not superstitious, and she’s not really politically conscientious. She’s an aesthete. She’s not a fool. She knows that it’s not going to make a difference. I thought it was a tender gesture, and it made me think, “Wow, if even Michele is feeling an urgency…” It made me think about environmental consciousness, and how there’s fear, but maybe if we think logically, everything’s going to change anyway, and we have to embrace change and we have to be open to it. It’s like maybe death is a transition. What if we could embrace change in a different way, or consider a different way of embracing change instead of being threatened by it? I’m thinking of enveloping yourself with clothes, obviously. That’s a way we deal with it personally.

And you’re lending your hand to that, in a way.

 I’ve been doing these personal gestures, these physical gestures in my last shows: exposed penises, talking about the mystery of the penis, and the superstition of the penis and the shame involved. And then 

women cradling each other

, supporting each other, and how that’s a beautiful gesture. And I thought, how do I make that even more intimate? It’s me personally touching all of these clothes. So I shut myself up in my studio and I draped every piece — which will be duplicated to be sold — but the initial gesture was my physical gesture written all over the clothes. And I thought that’s the most intimate physical gesture I can come up with.

That’s a very personal approach. 

It’s like handwriting. It’s like every piece here has a handwritten gesture that’s personal of mine, that no one else can really duplicate. I thought that was a nice thing, and it was a nice contrast to fear and to doom. It wasn’t about control, and I wasn’t thinking desperately about how I can get my clothes into stores the next day after my show. It was about how can I make something that’s intimate and personal, and people might have to wait for it. There’s room for fast fashion, and then there’s room for another fashion faction that operates differently. I’m going to firmly align myself with the latter, so these clothes won’t be ready for three months, but I think that’s okay.

With the big fuzzy globes of hair, were you referencing your beehives? 

No, it’s more about molecules disintegrating into molecules. All of these clothes are kind of draped and kind of dripping into the air and disappearing. And I’m not New Agey at all. This is just me being a gasbag and going on and on, because I didn’t study any of this. I’m not a Buddhist, but there is something lovely about thinking of yourself in a bigger picture, and thinking of yourself as part of it. And thinking that at some point you will be absorbed in that, and it’s being absorbed in us right now. And it’s a nice feeling of being part of something.

Was that in your head when you designed the collection, or did it come afterward? 

It was the title I came up with for fall. When I used it for men, it was a little more aggressive, and the clothes were a little more aggressive. Here it’s more about the soft acceptance of change. I thought “mastodon” is such a great word because it represents something that was eradicated, like we will be. We’re going to be the mastodons of the future. And that’s okay. That’s inevitable. So, it’s very cheerful, nihilistic — not nihilistic — cheerfully doomed! It’s maybe not to focus on the threat as much and console ourselves that everything changes and evolves and turns into something else, and we’re still part of it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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