“I must admit that I'm not that familiar with Jay-Z or Rick Ross or hip-hop in general. I mainly listen to hardcore techno, old disco records and old show tunes. But of course I'm pleased to have a happy client and I think it is nice that they talk about my products. I cannot imagine rejecting any positive response. I don't supply them with my jackets, if that's what you think. They have to go out and buy them. It is a surprise to me that they would even bother, but I guess as our world is getting more and more commercial maybe it has become interesting to them to look into less obvious, more obscure fashion labels. Before, hip-hop used to be all about big luxury label brands like, you know, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci.”
"I must admit that I'm not that familiar with Jay-Z or Rick Ross or hip-hop in general. I mainly listen to hardcore techno, old disco records and old show tunes" — Rick Owens
Over the past few years, Rick Owens has become an unintentional uniform for hip-hip, both aesthetically and lyrically. Artists have come to rely on the avant-garde designer’s urban-inspired knitwear, leather jackets and grunge-glamour, somewhat unexpected given his initial ‘goth’ pigeonhole. In a way, rap music has helped pull Owens away from this niche and onto the street. However, perhaps he has always had an urban leaning: Owens started his career working in a sportswear factory owned by Michele Lamy, who is now his wife, and a sportswear accent has been carried into each collection through mesh tank tops, drawstring shorts and athletic footwear.
On Peso, A$AP Rocky MCs, “Raf Simons, Rick Owens usually what I’m dressed in”, while in the video he mixes Harlem gangs, grills and tunnel raves with a couture wardrobe. His track Fashion Killa reads like an A-Z of style.com as he reels off designers, including a shout out to Mr Owens. In Super High, Rick Ross states, ‘Rick Owens on me, bombers for my whole army”, while Jay-Z namedrops the designer during “Ultra”.
Owens has yet to ask any of his urban fans to provide a soundtrack for his show. He has instead favoured Matthew Stone, Wagner or, in the case of his S/S14 menswear show, Estonian deathcore band Winny Puhh. His first club night is set to open in London soon (following the success of his club ‘Spotlight’ in Paris). One waits with curiosity as to whether his hip-hop clan will follow.
Text by Mhairi Graham
The above extract is taken from Talking Fashion: From Raf Simons to Nick Knight in their own Words by Jan Kedves, published by Prestel Publishing and available now. See an intimate portrait of Rick Owens and Michelle Lamy in our exclusive film A Little Bit Eternal.