3 Things we can Learn from Rick Owens and Michele Lamy’s Outré Relationship

Here at Slutever, we die for unconventional relationship dynamics. The new photobook, Rick Owens: Furniture, gives us a look at the aspirational partnership between designers Rick Owens and Michele Lamy. By Kristen Cochrane.

In the new Rizzoli photobook, Rick Owens: Furniture, fragmented quotes offer intimate glimpses into the world of renowned designer Rick Owens and his partner and muse, former restauranteuse and designer Michele Lamy. Make no mistake about a power differential in this relationship—the couple could write a guidebook on egalitarian relationships, and besides, it was Owens who began working for Lamy when they first met.

The book, which centers around their shared furniture practice, opens with a love letter from Owens to Lamy:

There was the time in 1998 that I threw a take-out container of spaghetti against the kitchen wall in our bunker off Hollywood Boulevard in L.A. And there was the time in 2015 that I threw my reading glasses across my office in our house in Paris. Both times Hun ducked theatrically even though I was aiming a mile away.

In both cases I was trying to get a straight answer from her and in both cases she was gallicly ridiculing my need for one.

She was right. […]

Whereas I need to find the straightest line from Point A to Point B, Hun scorns Point B and is ready to operatically debate why we should acknowledge Point B at all. Or why Point C wouldn’t be the most thrilling.

Her organic chaos can really fistfuck my concrete brutalism.

So my best bet is to throw her the ball and marvel at whatever direction she runs with it… because it’s gonna end up turning out great.

Hun, I love you.

I’ve been reading this passage over and over since I got the book, and each time I do, my eyes fill with water. (Burn me at the stake!) Anyway, the book—apart from being a showcase of the furniture they create together—is basically one long veneration by Owens to Lamy, complemented by Lamy’s own words. The book accompanies the exhibition of the same name that recently wrapped up at the Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A. Sidenote: Kanye attended Rick Owens: Furniture as his first public outing since being hospitalized for mental health issues (solidarity). If your exhibition is the first thing someone goes to once they’ve been through a personal trauma, you know you’re doing something right.

Below are some more things we could learn from Rick Owens and Michele Lamy’s outré relationship.

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The way he looks at her makes me melt TBH.

Get a job working for a female designer, and marry her

While ideally we’d be existing in some kind of utopic post-gender, post-race, post-human, post-fucking world, many of us know this is not the case. We are still bound by constrictive gender roles and expectations. Even if you roll in circles where everyone sleeps with everyone (regardless of gender), you’ll still encounter dudes who won’t take female bosses seriously.

If you’re Rick Owens, however, you end up leaving your boyfriend and marrying your female designer boss. And if this seems like shackling Michele Lamy down into domesticity, think again. In interviews where Lamy is brought up, all he talks about is how she loves heavy machinery, how he loves her personality traits that contrast his, and how, despite his introverted nature, he wants her to go out and party.

Reject a Met Gala invite, but dine with the Obamas at their Nordic State Dinner

The thought of rejecting an invite to the Met Gala is, for many, unfathomable. We still don’t know why Owens declined to go to the annual Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute Benefit, but the rejection of the event adds to his elusive aura. Maybe it’s because he could go anytime, and had pressing work commitments. After all, he’s admitted to being extremely disciplined with his work habits.

But a dinner invite to hang with the Obamas? That’s something you don’t turn down, and the Owens-Lamy anti-couple didn’t. Owens and Lamy attended the Nordic State Dinner in 2016, a high profile event that honors the leaders of Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Norway (which sounds tight as hell TBH). Reporting on the event, GQ wrote that inviting Owens and Lamy was “another thing we can thank Obama for,” describing their outfits as a “future-goth take on formalwear,” which has never sounded or looked better.

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Owens and Lamy at the Obamas’ Nordic State Dinner in 2016. Via

Appreciate your partner’s traits that complement your own

In one excerpt of the book that might make you believe in soulmates, Owens writes about Lamy’s natural talent:

“We do have similar taste, but the reason the furniture is moving forward is because of her cultivating it. She embraces artists and artisans in an almost mystical way. Where I can be impatiently and tediously pragmatic, she can coax things out of people with love. She has gut instincts that I trust, so she edits the pieces,” he writes. “She does the same with my fur collection. She’s my personal beautiful witch.”

Rizzoli’s photobook Rick Owens: Furniture is out now.

Kristen Cochrane is a writer and graduate researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her academic research is currently on queer Latin American cinema, but she also writes about art, sexuality, and life stories. Her work has appeared in Amuse/i-D, Teen Vogue, Somesuch, and VICE.  



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