8 August 2012

The Same Story

Fall/Winer 2006 - Fall/Winter 2009
Dustulator Crust 

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Fall/Winter 2009
Dustulator - Crust

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Fall/Winter 2010
Dustulator - Gleam

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Fall/Winter 2010
Dustulator - Gleam

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Fall/Winter 2010
Dustulator - Gleam

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Fall/Winter 2011
Dustulator - Limo

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Spring/Summer 2010
Dustulator - Release

 Fall/Winter 2006 - Spring/Summer 2013
Dustulator - Island

'The biggest risk that I ever take is staying true to myself and doing my thing, which could be repetitive to a lot of people, and just sticking to that straight line. That's probably the biggest risk I ever do. I get criticized for it a lot, "Oh it's Rick, it's the 'Rick Owens' look, it's the same old thing". I think it's great actually, that I've created some kind of identity or established some kind of aesthetic that is attributed to me - I think that's fantastic. I think if you look at this collection and the first collection, next to each other, it's the same story...' 
- Rick Owens

I tend to think about personal style as a journey in progress. Then again, to call it a journey implies that there is some final destination, and I do not believe that there is or could ever be. And yet a journey with no perceivable endpoint is still worth undertaking because of what you may learn and experience along the way. Learn, improve, refine - it is a process that can be applied to most endeavours and one that I try to use in the way I live. We all start somewhere, and in this journey I think that start is on the day we first picked out our own clothing, and looked into the mirror and decided that we liked what we saw. Of course that time can come early for some, late for others, and does not necessarily have anything to do with coming of age. A person can spend years dressing themselves, yet in that time never feeling quite happy with what they see upon themselves in the mirror (being happy with your body is a topic for another day, but that is of course necessarily related to how you view your clothed body).

The journey can be unpredictable, it can be surprising, and sometimes it can be thoroughly frustrating, but I think that is what makes it worthwhile. Looking back at how I used to dress and comparing it to how I dress now is for me a really interesting experience. There are what at first seem like disparate elements that clash along the way, but exploring the ideas and themes, and I see that there is always a common ground to be found - certain recurring interests, obsessions, and areas where I wanted to find out more. You try look after look after look in your discovery of what really moves you, and as such I think those outfits you look back on and are totally embarrassed by are actually the most important. If you never make a mistake, you have nothing to improve upon. As such you have to explore and try things. Embrace the mistakes because they are where you learn. I still do not think I dress particularly well, but I am learning, and I think that desire to learn more is what keeps things fun for me.

I think thoughtful dressing is more important than dressing in any specific desire to be interesting. You have an idea that you want to express something, and trying to find your way of doing that is where the challenge is. The process is individual for all of us, but often we may arrive in a similar place. Of course the danger is to over-think an outfit, and that is something that becomes readily apparent to those around us. I am not a fan of looks that are too pristine, too perfect, it feels forced. The idea of perfection seems inhuman to me - when I see something supposedly perfect, I want to run over and mess it up a bit, just to make it come alive. At a certain point you have to ignore what you think and go with what feels right. Indeed I like the idea of a certain Yohji fan no longer using a mirror to dress, but simply going with what feels right - it seems a far more intuitive and interesting method of dressing.

I once heard someone say that they would rather dress plain and have interesting thoughts, than dress interesting and have plain thoughts, and it is a statement I find utterly charming. The issue of dressing interestingly is something I find problematic, in that I feel that in its truest form it is a byproduct of feeling and thought rather than something achievable through direct choice. In the words of Arnold Bennett - good taste is better than bad taste, but bad taste is better than no taste at all. Of course in this day and age of pre-packaged high street cookie cutter 'on trend' looks (try saying that three times) and notions of 'get the look for less' (entirely missing the point of dress in my reckoning), it becomes harder and harder to discern the difference between bad taste and no taste. Someone could be decked out in the latest high fashion 'it' items, and ostensibly be displaying good taste, but the reality is (thankfully) not so straightforward. Likewise someone could be wearing something that does not have the same supposed cultural desirability (that is, until fashion picks it up as inspiration), say an elderly couple, and although their style is far more interesting than the previous, it is deemed as somehow lesser.

I often feel that it is easier to hide behind fashion than to engage with it, and until you are comfortable in what you are wearing I am not sure that you can really understand or look to develop your own sense of style. It is unfortunately far too easy to get caught up in dressing for others, without thinking about what you like and what you think looks good. Of course we all dress for others, as the social body is invariably a clothed body, but rather than choosing dress according to the tastes of others, we ought to choose according to our own tastes, whilst bearing in mind the relevant social conventions (wearing a sparkly cardigan to a funeral because it expresses 'you' is utterly selfish, not to mention offensive). Finding the confidence to look through a collection and look through clothing on the rail in order to arrive at a decision for yourself is something that I think is incredibly important.

Humans by nature want to fit in and feel like they belong, and dress can be an incredibly powerful tool in that process, but it only becomes worthwhile when the reasons are personal, otherwise it is merely costume. To be sure I am still trying to find exactly what it is that moves me, and I think that search is never-ending, because there are always new ideas and new garments to be found. But I think that decision to find what motivates you rather than what motivates others, or what you are told should motivate you, is important. There are too many messages coming from too many directions telling us how we should dress, what we should buy, what is 'hot', what is 'so last season', that it can quickly become too much. I say ignore what the fashion mediators say is in, and find something that is relevant to you for yourself.

I know I use this quote far too often, but Roland Barthes had it right, "Mass culture is a machine for showing desire: here is what must interest you, it says, as if it guessed that men are incapable of finding what to desire by themselves". And yet the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether we have become a society that relies on others to make those choices for us - to tell us what to wear, what to buy, how to look. I think fashion can be brilliant, it can be fantastic, it can be beautiful, it can be moving, but in the words of Yohji Yamamoto, "I hate fashion". When it comes to how you choose to dress yourself I dislike the idea of being wrapped up in what the next big thing will be, what everyone else will be wearing, and getting caught up in the cycle (of course I am absolutely fascinated by all three when it comes to the theory). Find something you think is beautiful, something that moves you, something that makes you feel confident, and wear the heck out of it. It sounds easy, but these days it would seem it is unfortunately anything but.

Rick Owens
Fall/Winter 2006

As much as Rick's style may mature, there are some things I really do miss.



  1. "we ought to choose according to our own tastes, whilst bearing in mind the relevant social conventions" and "Find something you think is beautiful, something that moves you, something that makes you feel confident, and wear the heck out of it." Well said.

    I like seeing an aesthetic consistency in designers. My favorite designers are the ones that have a signature look--and even more so the designers that create an entire narrative for their clothes to exist in. In other words, I like knowing that I can go to X for this and Y for that.

    I try to buy things that are timeless and that won't make me cringe when I look back. But I've definitely worn my share of cringe-inducing outfits. I don't mind to wear statement pieces as long as I can put it on and go. Even a simple piece of clothing that requires me fussing with it for 15 minutes gets axed. The less I think about it, the better.

  2. I enjoyed your long essay as well.

    We dress for others,but others mean can understand and enjoy the same sense . What my friend wearing isn't matter for our friendship at all.But when the friend is wearing exactly what I like, I become happy! Because I guess I feel more same thing between I and my friend ?

  3. Wow , so pretty and beautiful outfits, amazing pics.
    Parfum pas cher

  4. I do love that Rick can be true to his aesthetic, although you do see changes every season. It's not as static as some people like to make out.

    It's true that dressing in the "in" style says nothing about your own level of taste. That only comes out when choose what you want to wear not knowing what everybody else thinks about it already... But isn't it incredibly hard not to be influenced by collective taste in our modern culture?

    Although I find I myself can't help but get carried along with "trends" if they even exist. Sometimes I think, "Oh God, I look just like everyone else". Then I realise I look *just* like everyone that I see on a minority of blogs and at fashion week. I don't look like everybody else walking round Sainsbury's. So I guess it's often about context.