C California Style

PHOTO: Diana Koenigsberg.
Rick Owens. PHOTO: Danielle Levitt.
The bubble-producing water tank, his version of a swimming pool. PHOTO: Diana Koenigsberg.
Bronze vessels, prices upon request. PHOTO: Diana Koenigsberg.
Rick Owens Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2015 fashion show in Paris. PHOTO: Owenscorp.
Rick Owens Ready to Wear Fall Winter 2015 fashion show in Paris

Serenity Now

by C California Style

Paris-based designer RICK OWENS opens a monastic boutique in his native LOS ANGELES to showcase his high-concept designs.

Rick Owens hasn’t been back to Los Angeles in 14 years, but his command of Hollywood lore remains impeccable. Take the Paris-based designer’s new La Brea Avenue boutique. Owens’ account of its construction evokes the opening lines of Sunset Boulevard: “He always wanted a pool. Well, in the end, he got himself a pool—only the price turned out to be a little high.” The new space, stocked with ready-to-wear for women and men (plus the supple leather jackets and high-top sneakers that sparked Owens’ cultlike following) opened in mid-October, but the designer says the shop was ready earlier, save for a massive water tank built into the stark glass and concrete structure.

“I thought, conceptually, Los Angeles is about swimming pools, just as a funny cliche, and we had to have one,” says the 52-year-old designer, who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and spent years in L.A. honing his craft after stints at Otis College of Art and Design and an L.A. trade school where he learned pattern-making. Owens launched his namesake label in 1994, after meeting Michèle Lamy, his muse and now wife. Lamy, herself a designer-turned-restaurateur, ran the fabled Les Deux Café in Hollywood.

The designer decamped with Lamy to France in 2003, and, after a long search for an L.A. location, Owens finally found one suitably off the beaten path. 

True to his subversive dishabille-luxe aesthetic (recent runway shows included women carrying each other like backpacks and men with crotch cutouts), Owens imagined the glass tank with a “serene bubble” that floats up periodically. To accommodate the idea, glass walls and concrete floors inside the decidedly minimalist space, devised with architect Anna Tumaini, had to be strengthened. 

Owens presided over it all from his Paris office, even fielding updates as the tank water turned acid yellow and faded to a “lovely murky green.” He credits filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille for inspiring elements of the gutted and reconfigured 1920s warehouse, including the massive concrete wall fronting the store. “Everything DeMille did was theatrical and a little bit epic and always overscaled,” says Owens. “So I might have learned that from him.” 819 N. La Brea Ave., L.A., 323-931-4960; rickowens.eu. • ELIZABETH VARNELL