Tuesday 3rd September

| BY Dino Bonacic

Two Books, One Designer: Rick Owens Just Released A Double Bill of Titles with Rizzoli – See What’s Hiding Inside Both

Rick Owens and Michele Lamy, 2013 by Danielle Levitt from ‘Rick Owens Photographed by Danielle Levitt’

In many ways, releasing a book with Rizzoli can be a pinnacle of a fashion designer’s career, a printed stamp of approval for their talent then immortalised and bound between two covers. But Rick Owens isn’t just a fashion designer. He is the fashion designer. Widely considered as one of the biggest creative geniuses of our times, effortlessly merging art and commerce while steadily building what’s possibly the most dedicated army of fans and shoppers in fashiondom. While you may consider his work as a conceptual expression of a single individual, it’s also a political reflection of its time which is highly desirable. From human rucksacks to penises dangling freely and visible through strategically placed holes in the garments – Rick Owens is a meme queen without actually trying to be one. He’s known in the art world as much as he is in fashion, and equally respected in both fields too. So, it doesn’t shock that when it came to working with one of the biggest fashion book publishers in the world, Owens had to double things up.

Ylva and Allison, SS16 Cyclops Women’s by Danielle Levitt from ‘Rick Owens Photographed by Danielle Levitt’

Both dropping today, the American designer created two publications – one a photographic retrospective of his recent collections shot by Danielle Levitt, the second being Owens’ love letter to the legendary NYC designer Larry Legaspi. Actually, the two books are not the first time Owens published with Rizzoli – the first one being a 2011 eponymous large-format encyclopedia of his designs. Released in 2017, the follow-up was a collaboration with his muse and partner Michele Lamy, focusing on the interior pieces the duo creates simply named Rick Owens: Furniture. Now, the designer’s fans can add two new titles to their jet-black dark coffee-tables.

Katie, AW16 Mastodon Women’s by Danielle Levitt from ‘Rick Owens Photographed by Danielle Levitt’

Rick Owens Photographed by Danielle Levitt captures the last decade of the designer’s collections in a simplistic white studio environment. Letting the clothes and the complex ideas speak for themselves, Levitt (who is also a long-term collaborator of Ten Towers) has a history of working with Owens. The close relationship between the two comes into play on the 200 pages, as you observe the photographer’s understanding of the angles of Owens’ clothes, Her sharp, simplistic lens makes for the perfect framework to experience those pieces, even without physically touching or trying them on. Flicking through 10 years of Rick Owens reveals how much his work contributed to the society and fashion on a greater level. Undeniably trend-less and seemingly devoid of contemporary pop-culture, the book offers a timeline to an opus which could otherwise be seen on a non-linear spectrum. As it sits neatly laid out in a clinical environment, the method to the genius of Rick Owens appears before your eyes.

Grace Jones, 1979; photographed by Robin Platzer, courtesy of Getty Images from ‘Legaspi’ by Rick Owens

On the other hand, Legaspi turns the responsibility onto the designer as he digs deep into his obsession with the fashion and costume legend of Larry Legaspi. Known and loved for his outrageous stage looks created for everyone from Divine and Grace Jones to Patti Labelle and KISS, Legaspi is one of those forgotten names whose legacy inivisibly lives on. Back in January, it was Owens who brought the rich history back into the conversation with his AW19 menswear collection, citing Legaspi as his main inspiration. “This book is shamelessly about me,” Owens writes about the publication, explaining that it’s a self-indulgent curation of the designer’s work into what he wanted him to be, and “the kind of designer I hoped to be.” In addition to archival imagery, interviews and contributions of some of Legaspi’s collaborators and friends (including Labelle, Pat Cleveland and André Leon Talley), Rick Owens photographed pieces from the designer’s archives in his signature style. The way these two worlds collide adds to the spectacle of the book, as the sweaty camp of 1970s disco suddenly turns into architectural objets d’art.

While each of the books stands out as an individual oddity, the experience of simultaneously indulging into both explains the reasons behind publishing them together. One personal, the other captured from the outside – the powerful visual language of Rick Owens connects the two into a creative symbiosis that won’t just make you draw correlations between the two worlds, but also look pretty damn fabulous on your bookshelf.

‘Legaspi’ and ‘Rick Owens Photographed by Danielle Levitt’ are both available to buy online and in selected stores.


Pat Cleveland; photographer uknown from ‘Legaspi’ by Rick Owens

Divine, Voice, February 13 1978; Photographed by Chris Callis from ‘Legaspi’ by Rick Owens