Fashion & Beauty / Culture Talks

Rick Owens on His Devotion to Fashion and Music

The prolific designer presents a filmic reflection on fashion, and explores the interaction between his shows and their soundtracks

“Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper,” are the words that Rick Owens used to close the show notes for his A/W16 menswear collection, words taken from Blue Öyster Cult’s 1976 ode to both eternal love and our inevitable mortality. Such lyrical dichotomy is perhaps what best defines the world that Owens reflects through his collections, whose elemental rhythm and disquieting harmony often feel analogous to a perfectly crafted melody. Thus, it makes sense that the designer often creates these collections to perfectly align with the music that accompanies them on the runway, and that the precision he is renowned for manifests in more than just the clothing he designs but equally in the universe it is first presented within. Here, Owens presents a celebration of the music and the experience of staging a fashion show, alongside his own reflections on the symbiosis between music and fashion.

On composing his show music...
“I started doing the music with a friend from L.A. after I moved to Europe, because if I didn’t find something for us to do together we would lose touch. We have mixed every show together; even when I commission a musician to compose something I have pretty specific preferences for pacing and can’t resist fine tuning the sequence. We go through every second and filter and tweak until I get what I want.”

On his insatiable appetite...
“I’m always, always looking for new music. Not for shows, but for my personal appetite – the show music is just incidental. That being said, I decide on the show music pretty early on in the design process, and I’m usually editing the music and the collection at the same time. The collection is definitely fed by the music.”

On being a genre slut...
“I’m a total slut when it comes to genres – I’m just as crazy about show tunes and opera as I am about techno. One of my personal career highs was using Alice Cooper for both my first New York show (Sick Things) and first Paris show (Devil's Food). Right now I’m listening to Maxim Rysanov’s Bach Suites in the studio, and Byrell The Great at the gym. Nothing’s off the table. Well, maybe country western...”