Attention, Voyeurs! Rick Owens’s Bedroom
Published May 10, 2010
Attention, voyeurs: Pavane for a Dead Princess, an exhibition of furniture inspired by Rick Owens’ bedroom, opened this weekend at Salon 94. Presented by Rudy Weissenberg and gallery owner Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, the Owens-designed pieces will be on view through June 25.
Pavane features a massive alabaster bed with curved headboard, arranged opposite a matching daybed (combined weight: 1.5 tons of the glowing white stone). Horned bronze stools and a curtain made of dark mink tendrils complete the scene. Set in the high-windowed ground floor of Rohatyn’s townhouse, the exhibition is a mix of drama and Gothic-edged luxury that’s thoroughly Owens—although stateside fans are likely more used to this signature in Owens’s mens- and womenswear collections. Pavane is the first U.S. exhibition of his furniture.
Raised in California and now living in Paris, the designer made a rare New York visit for Pavane. Tanned and fit, he looked like Iggy Pop’s dashing brunet brother, clad in a long black coat and high-tops. In attendance at Saturday’s opening were Owens’s long-time business partner and better half, Michelle Lamy, as well as Daphne Guiness, Calvin Klein, Tao Okamoto and Jenny Shimizu. There were several young men dressed like Owens, too, including reality TV star Andrew Mukamal, of Kell on Earth.
Owens said he was surprised by how the work was received. Over the phone Sunday morning, he said at least one alabaster bed had already been sold, at 175,000 euros.
“The reception in New York, I do have to say, was really, really validating,” Owens said. He describes himself as “pretty French,” a behind-the-scenes guy who is usually busy in the factory or back stage at fashion shows. “I’m always a little surprised at the response. Sometimes I forget how much is out there,” said Owens, who has five stores globally. “I really love the whole craft of it and I forget that it gets out in the world.”
Friends Weissenberg and Rohatyn approached Owens to do a furniture exhibition, suggesting the bedroom setting because of the intense personal nature of Owens’s work.
The alabaster bed is modeled on his cashmere-felt bed at home. Though Owens is coveting the stone version, there’s still great attachment to the original. “It was our exact same bed we had when we were poor on Hollywood Boulevard,” Owens said. Since those L.A. days, he and Lamy have upgraded to a home-office in the former French Socialist Party Headquarters. The furniture is also an opportunity for the couple to work together, as clothing design is a more solitary occupation for Owens; he calls the furniture, “In a way … more her triumph than mine,” as it is Lamy who works most closely with the artisans making the pieces.
The sheer weight of the pieces also fit Owens’s desire for his furniture to have sense of permanence, of monumentalism. “When I see furniture, so much of what I see is about being witty, like a sofa made of stuffed animals,” he said. “I’m not inventing a church or anything, but I’m thinking, ‘Do I really want to live with this for 10 years?’ I want it to be solid in authenticity, in concept, physically … Everything I make tends to be a little bit on the big side, and a little bit on the heavy side.”
Pavane‘s sense of intimacy includes the name of the exhibition, lifted from the Maurice Ravel piece of the same name. In his design process, Owens talks about looking into past and recycling personal influences, or “look[ing] around me instead of looking outside.” Owens’s parents used to play him classical music when he was a child, he said, and he’s always found the Ravel piece particularly haunting.
“[It] was also beginning of me being interested in that kind of aesthetic,” he said. “There was such a mystery, a little bit of morbid glamour in that title, and it always stuck with me. That song has been important to me for 40 years.”
He had to consider the materials used for his Pavane, as well: “And when I was doing an alabaster bed, what could be more appropriate for a dead princess?”
PAVANE FOR A DEAD PRINCESS IS ON VIEW THROUGH JUNE 25. SALON94 IS LOCATED AT 12 EAST 94 STREET, NEW YORK.