Paris-based designer Rick Owens was born in Porterville, California, on November 18, 1962. Owen’s father worked as a social worker, whereas his mother worked as an English teacher and a part-time seamstress. Owens was forced to attend a local catholic school and had trouble relating to others due to being strictly sheltered by his conservative parents. His parent’s strictness eventually led him to skip school, smoke, and take more interest in art in high school. After high school, Owens studied Fine Arts at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, but later dropped out two years later because he wasn’t passionate about the field of art. He then enrolled in Los Angeles Trade and Technical College, studying pattern cutting which led him to become more interested in fashion.
After two years of pattern cutting and seeking work, Owens got a position as a pattern cutter for a company knocking off designer brands. Although illegal and unethical, the work taught him to recreate the results of the most prominent designers in the industry at the time. In 1988, he got a new job working for a legitimate clothing line owned by designer Michèle Lamy, who would later become his life partner. While Owens was working for Lamy, he was still trying to get his name recognized by creating his pieces on the side and refining his designs.
In 1994, he finally launched his label but needed somewhere to sell his pieces. Owens contacted Maxfield, a luxury avant-garde boutique in Los Angeles, who would regretfully decline him. He then sent his works to Charles Gale, a prominent luxury boutique in LA, who saw faith in his works and sold and paid for half of his collection. Due to his collection at Charles Gale, Owens was beginning to get his name recognized in the LA-based area and would soon get contacted by boutiques all over the world, including Maxfield, who first declined him. He eventually accepted the offer at Maxfield, as Charles Gale would later close. His time at Maxfield is where he started perfecting his craft which moved him more into high-end fabrics and gaining a more significant clientele.
Not yet broken into the mainstream fashion industry, in 2001, Kate Moss was seen in Vogue wearing a leather Rick Owens’ jacket that caught the attention of the Editor and Chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour. Impressed by the works of his design, Wintour invited Owens to meet with her in Paris, whereby Wintour offered to sponsor his first fashion show at New York Fashion Week. In 2002 Owens finally made his fashion show debut with his SS 2002 collection titled “Sparrows.”
Following his runway debut in 2002, Owens released several runway collections that solidified his name in the fashion industry, including his prolific “Destulator AW 2006” collection, which introduced us to the design of the infamous Geobasket shoe. In years to come, Owens would become a powerhouse name in the fashion industry. He has released many successful collections and pieces, collaborated with sneaker brands such as Adidas, Birkenstock, Converse, etc., opened stores worldwide, and eventually became a mainstream success making him one of the most influential designers of all time.