For years Rick Owens wore high-heeled boots to the gym. The rare artist wholly committed to his aesthetic principles, he “hated the informal and suburban ethos of sneakers.” In 2021, when Owens began collaborating with Converse, he “corrupted” the Chuck 70: squared the toe, elongated the tongue, doubled the sole. Owens—a California kid who was raised Catholic but gravitated towards sex clubs, the Ramones, and the German artist Joseph Beuys—often talks about corruption. He started his brand in 1994 to “corrupt conformity from within.” Look at his fashion shows: he’s sent male models down the runway in penis-baring tunics and physically strapped models onto the backs of slightly stronger models. On September 28, he will show his spring-summer women’s collection in Paris. For an overview of Owens’s ethos, Rizzoli just published a new monograph on his work.
Owens flies when duty calls. Here, he answers our questionnaire about what he packs, eats, and buys while traveling.
Last flight you took?
Paris to Venice—I don’t really fly that much, mainly Paris to Venice in the summer and Paris to Luxor in the winter. And in between, Paris to Bologna, where my factory is. I circulate a lot less than I used to, which was never all that much to begin with. I have ended up living in such special places, I feel like I should enjoy them carefully and thoroughly before just consuming experiences in volume.
I can’t really tell the difference. Airports and airplanes are all gonna be a necessary compromise.
What do you wear to the airport?
What I always wear when I go out my front door—big shoulders, tits-out T-shirt, and high heels. When I decide on a new look every few years, I stick to it. Tenaciously and tediously. And I sometimes try to wear sunglasses but always end up feeling like a bigger douche than I already am.
How long before your flight boards do you get to the airport?
An hour so I can deal with the whole process leisurely.
Check bags, or carry-on only?
What do you bring in your carry-on?
Laptop, sweater, book.
T.S.A. PreCheck, or regular?
Is that a U.S. thing? I don’t travel there …
My main experience is CDG, and I do have to say it’s sexy A.F.—all moody concrete and spooky lighting at night … soundtracked to mass production by Iggy Pop on my earbuds.
What do you buy in the airport?
I regret that the magazine stands have become more and more reduced—I’ll get A.D. France and The World of Interiors if they have them, which they now seldom seem to …
What do you do while waiting to board?
Read and people-watch, enjoying the energy of being in a crowd full of anticipation, like before a concert in a stadium.
Item you can’t fly without?
What do you drink or take to fly?
If I have a long flight, which is very, very rare, I take an over-the-counter sleeping pill.
First class or coach?
Window, middle, or aisle seat?
Window. I still marvel at being able to see the world from that perspective.
How do you pass the time on the plane?
Reading, usually bios—the last one was a book on Peter Beard by my old friend Chris Wallace. A deliciously perceptive book as much about Chris as it was about Beard.
Do you buy Wi-Fi?
No—flights are a great place to let my mind wander—I look forward to submitting to the sense of locomotion and speed and momentum to release my brain, which it invariably does. I come up with some of my best ideas on planes or in cars …
Do you eat plane food?
Best drink to get on a flight?
Do you talk to the people sitting next to you?
I always say hello but keep to myself.
Keep shoes on or off?
What do you do when turbulence hits?
I equate it to a speedboat on waves.
Worst part of the flight?
Being assaulted by the very narrow and smug aspirational aesthetics of the beauty mall we are herded through.
First thing you do when the plane lands?
Check phone to see if my loved ones need me.
Advice for travelers?
Maybe wear socks and shoes.