Richard Saturnino Owens, better known as Rick Owens, has turned his darkly glamorous, post-apocalyptic take on gothic grunge into a globally-renowned fashion business, built largely around his signature leather jackets. In addition to his main line, Owens has a furniture line and a number of diffusion lines: Drkshdw, Rickowenslilies and Hunrickowens.
Having dropped out of Otis College of Art and Design, Owens took a course in pattern cutting at Los Angeles’s Trade Technical College. A scarcity of work led to Owens accepting a position cutting patterns for illegal copies of designer clothing. In 1994, he began his own label, selling exclusively to Charles Gallay, one of LA’s hippest and most directional retailers. In 2001, the designer sought international expansion and agreed a distribution deal with Eo Bocci Associati. As a consequence, the designer’s production relocated to Italy.
Owens broke into the highest echelons of the industry after French Vogue ran an image of Kate Moss wearing one of his leather jackets. Owens was able to utilise the momentum with assistance from Anna Wintour and American Vogue, and the publication sponsored his first show at New York Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2002 season. He also began his longstanding collaboration with stylist Panos Yiapanis in 2001 who, to date, has worked on every single one of Owens’ presentations.
In 2002, Owens was appointed artistic director at Revillon, the French fur company that was founded in 1723. Working and producing in Europe led him to move from Los Angeles to Paris and show during the Paris collections. Owens continued to design for the house until 2007.
The designer has been honoured by the CFDA twice, first with the Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Talent in 2002 after his debut catwalk show in New York and again in 2017 with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Other accolades include the Cooper-Hewitt Design Award for Fashion Design and the Fashion Group International's Rule Breaker Award, both of which he was awarded in 2007.
Owens has also authored several books, including L'Ai-Je Bien Descendu?, published in 2007, Rick Owens, published in 2011, and Rick Owens Furniture, published in 2017. A fourth — Legaspi: Larry Legaspi, the 70s, and the Future of Fashion — will be released in September 2019. In December 2017, a retrospective exhibition was dedicated to Owens’ work at La Triennale di Milano.
Owens is married to Michèle Lamy, his business partner.