Rick Owens Takes New York
Rick Owens Takes New York
- Words Jake Silbert
- Date May 2, 2017
I suppose I could’ve expected to run into Michele Lamy at Dover Street Market. Even still, I was completely taken aback. Wearing piles of heavy jewelry, flip flops and a snapback, wrapped in what appeared to be a brown linen sheet, Lamy cut an imposing figure. Any passersby could tell that she was someone of stature. This was the day before I had RSVP’d to attend a book signing at the Rick Owens store in SoHo, naturally. I’ve observed the brand from afar, enjoying the runway spectacles and noting the uncompromisingly dedicated fanbase. Even if I was completely out of place, I figured it’d be a good time and a better way to spend a Saturday evening than drinking soju in Koreatown.
Photos by Jon Suhr.
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I walked up to the store twenty minutes late; not because I’m fashionably cool, I’m just always late. Fans had begun lining up some time before 6pm. The line consisted of mostly young men and some women, all wearing black and nearly all wearing Rick. The attitude was relaxed, but I could hear the excited murmurs of people anxious to meet the man himself. More than any other modern designer, Rick Owens is as much the center of attention as the clothes themselves. Plenty of people weren’t at the event to buy a signed book, they just wanted to meet and grab a selfie with the fashion icon. After a few minutes, a member of the event staff, draped in a black gown, swept through the crowd, inviting everyone who had RSVP’d to skip the line. As I walked inside, I mentally acknowledged that this is likely the first and last time I experience any kind of VIP treatment and thus it’d be irresponsible to not make the most of it. I immediately grabbed a tiny deviled egg and a goblet, half-filled with champagne, and surveyed the scene.
The Rick Owens store in SoHo is a brick building outfitted with a cement floor, granite staircase and a sparse, monochromatic color scheme. Items from Rick Owens’ furniture collection populate the space, including an enormous foam bench and stone slabs. Perhaps the most imposing piece is a stack of stone bricks, with a live flame visible in between open slots. Various items from Owens’ homeware and clothing lines can be found on shelves, racks and enclosed within glass cases around the store. As I walked around, I scooped up a handful of grey and white M&M’s from a bowl with Owens' signature printed on them. There was a massive line to go meet Owens so I elected to wait, further perusing the downstairs area only after I refilled my champagne, of course.
Every attendee was completely shrouded in Rick Owens. Some women, and a few adventurous guys, wore sculptural dresses accessorized with standout runway pieces. The 80-degree weather and lack of AC didn’t stop some people from wearing floor-length coats, sequined wool tops or countless layers. An Unknown Quantity’s Wataru Bob Shimosato stalked the store for photographs while wearing first-generation Dunks, a wool bucket hat and so many grey layers that he looked like a dusty Ringwraith. Plenty of other guests, like Nick Wooster, parlayed to the temperature and paired their Rick basics with Pod shorts and Geobaskets. I’m far removed from internet fashion culture, but I recognized Luka Sabbat in his Peter Saville hoodie, likely from Grailed, and Eugene ‘Faust’ Rabkin, the owner of StyleZeitgeist. Luckily, I had enough free champagne and beer to muster up the courage to chat a few of them up before I was dismissed as a proper fashion nobody. However, Greg Rosborough from Abasi Rosborough was much easier to talk to and the Rick staff were all kind enough to spare a few minutes to chat despite the high energy and higher heat.
I was standing upstairs, waiting to meet the man himself, when Owens elected to take a brief break from signing. As he passed to go downstairs, a brief hush fell over the crowd. Everyone’s head turned to follow his movement and, expectedly, quite a few phone cameras were raised. Immediately afterwards, everyone got back to murmuring reverently about the designer.
Rick returned in due time and the line started back up. I haven’t been to a "celebrity" meet-and-greet since I inadvertently signed up to take a picture with an idol group in Japan, so I didn’t really have any game plan for when my face-to-face would come. Once I finally made it to end of the line, I shook Owens' hand and asked him, “How do you manage to stay genuine while running you brand?” or, more realistically, something less articulate. He granted me a weary smile, “I just do the best I can, y’know?” Good enough for me. I took a quick selfie for Instagram and left, giving Michele Lamy a friendly wave goodbye. She returned it with a smile.
I arrived at the afterparty a few hours later, unsure of what to expect. It was held at a pretty nice hotel, 11 Howard. I entered the bar, not expecting to witness a gaggle of Rick staff dancing to 2000’s Top 40. Walking over the bar, I watched a tall, blond sales associate in gold rick boots jump in place, yelling the lyrics to Usher’s “Yeah”. I drank a water. The sweaty mass of men and women wearing flowing, dark clothes danced to Rihanna’s "Umbrella." Owens wasn’t coming; this was a party for the staff and friends. As the DJ inexplicably switched from Akon to Technotronic, I decided to call it a night. Rick or no Rick, I’m not gonna suffer through “Pump Up the Jam” again if I don’t have to.