Another take on luxury : Rick Owens for Revillon

Another take on luxury : Rick Owens for Revillon
Welcoming a new creative director in a deeply rooted fashion house is not an easy thing, and a complicated debate often seen in the industry, from customers to press and investors, not everyone can agree on the fresh breath brought to upcoming collections.
For Rick Owens, having the opportunity to be chosen as the new director of the oldest fur house in history was a great way  to expand his creative skills he has been mastering since the beginning of his label, and experiment with various high-end materials such as exotic leathers and furs, a big challenge knowing that the oldest french furrier's aesthetic is very far from the californian's decaying glamour.


This collaboration didn't come from nowhere, after presenting his first official collection in 1998 titled "MONSTERS", and exposing his provocating yet delicate creations through the lense of icons such as Goddess Bunny , his partcular glundge will soon be under the spotlight after supermodel Kate Moss donned one of his leather jackets for Vogue Paris in 2001, catching the attention of Anna Wintour. Recognizing his talent, Wintour backed Owens, making possible this breakthrough spread in American vogue with Kembra Pfahler shoot by Annie Leibovitz, then funding his first runway show at New York Fashion Week - the iconic Fall 2002 "SPARROWS" (originally, the spring 2002 show was canceled because of September 11 events).


Rick Owens and Goddess Bunny, 1998


Critics stated : "A modern women wears modern clothes", and this paticuliar modernity will bring the company’s focus on the upcoming American star, even though his reputation took a hit after tha unfamous photo montage published by I-D.

Kate Moss wearing a Rick Owens leather jacket, shoot by Corinne Day for Vogue


The year 2003 marks Rick Owens arrival in Paris, leaving the west coast behind him for mixed reasons, but ready to take control on the monumental French luxury fur house.
For some context, Revillon Frères was founded in 1723, Paris. It stood as a cornerstone of French luxury, adorning elites both domestically and abroad. After its peak popularity in the 50s and 60s, the brand witnessed a big decline, so by the end of the 90’s, the company decided to rebrand themselves, with the goal of expanding and rejuvenating its clientele. They wanted to quit the “stereotypical bourgeois” image, given by the fur coat, so prevalent in France. The era of pret-a-porter beckoned, where runway spectacles and youth countercultures dominated the landscape, and Revillon's old-world charm seemed out of step at the time.


Revillon postcards, 1910 and 1914


Rick Owens was a bold and highly unexpected decision. Revillon furs were the epitome of traditional chic: gigantic floor-length coats made of fox or mink with round lapels falling on the shoulders, slender jackets made of Astrakhan with voluminous contrasting standing collar and cuffs, with muffs and hats completing the look. This is clothing for upper class socialite women living voluptuously and showing off their status.

Revillon in Vogue US, 1955


Rick Owens, however, stood in stark contrast. Drawing from the earlier mentioned SPARROWS collection, his woman was subdued, embracing comfort with a hint of allure. The color scheme consisted of neutral tones such as gray, black, white, and taupe, complemented by semi-transparent fishtail skirts, oversized knitted coats, gracefully draped clingy dresses featuring cowl necklines, relaxed corduroy trousers, sleek tuxedo jackets, and, of course, the signature bomber and leather jackets. Most outfits were topped by knitted balaclavas, quite unconventional feminine headpieces.


Fall 2002 SPARROWS


The goal for the American designer was, in order to blow the dust away from the rich old ladies brand, to modernise it and to reach a whole new clientele by creating an image of quiet luxury based on reinterpreting his signature structural and architectural shapes for a younger audience, with stylish and attractive designs.
Far from the historically mondain image that fur is associated with, featuring the most high priced leather imaginable, Owens work here is more about showing a refined, modern aesthetic that doesn't indicate any kind of social status, or at least, doesn't enhance this mondain aesthetic. He wants to propose everyday furs, comfortable, cool, and of the highest quality. Still, the marketing of his work would be in agreement with the high standards of the brand, selling the fist collection exclusively in ten selected stores around the world, including Revillon's flagship in the famous Avenue Montaigne. 



His debut with Révillon will starts with their Fall 2003 collection, and will also sign his first and last time working in another house. During the three years following his tenure (his last collection being the fall 2006 one), he made the choice to present his Revillon collections during Couture week. During these, various kind of high-end furs such as sheared mink, nutria, chinchilla or fox, as well as exotic leathers such as crocodiles skins, python and ostrich will be prevalent, all completed by the best cashmere. The craftmanship is top-tier with an attention to details and high standards showing what is luxury seen from a young rebel designer. Owens also decides to expand the French brand with a new accessory line. Michèle Lamy was extremely involved into the process, and helped a lot for this collaboration, "she's all about artisans and bringing people together" Owens said, a strengh that would balance with his struggle to teamwork.



For his first collection, the looks presented shows Rick Owens particular DNA in a more sobered and exotic way, that could be seen today as an expansion of his own work. Silhouettes are light and free, completed with organic, rounded and opened fur garments giving sense of liberty to the wearer. The color palette is lighter and illuminated, with graceful shades of cream, off-white, bown and khaki, and very few black garments. We still observe a strong "Rick touch" with the use staples such as the classic dickflap tank top worn on the last look, as well as complex geommetric patterns and drawstring shorts. Garments made of lightweight and lightly seetrough fabrics are embracing the body to create a lean silouhette, in a desire for discretion and chicness, while still being urbane and anti-fashioned: we can note lightly distressed pants, very short skirts with long panels floating on the side and knitted beanies. Looks are completed with complex fur vests, jackets and scarves, destrctured, of various length and textures, presented in a way to light up as the main piece. We also find the use of the signature ankle boot and pump, used in Owens collection of early 2000's, this time made of a surprising combo of exotic leathers, mixing ostrich with python skin, as well as long hairy gloves that will be very present around 2010's.




As a comparison, his collection "TRUCKER" presented for his mainline on the same year is way more austere and radical. The use of dark colors and black is prevalent, as well as bloody red and rust. Overzised sweaters are layered with floor length skirts and capes, sharp tailored coats, thick leather jackets and padded vests. Faces are hidden with large hoods or high necks, and looks are completed with leather harnesses and thigh high boots. It is interesting to see the contrast made with his own work. 




The fall 2004 collection for Revillon will follow lats year's principles, with the add of accessories such as tassel pendants and wide belts, as well as more voluminous furs.




His last designs for the french house will be for fall 2006, this time presenting more dramatic and impressive looks with giant coats and a darker color palette. Silhouettes are severe yet chic, with tailored jackets closing with big ribbons, scarves hiding models faces, walking hand in pockets with short haicuts elongating their face. Elegant long dresses with neck tails and open back will be seen again for his own spring 2008, 2009 and 2011 collections.




Rick Owens will also reinterpret his emblematic "Monkey" jacket (1998) during his time at the house. 



Unfortunately, this experience for Rick Owens comes to an end in 2006, when Revillon is bought by another fur company: Yves Salomon. The deal made back then completely changed the house, leaving only lines of perfumes, makeup and glasses. Yves Salomon didn't renew the contract with Rick Owens, and his artistic director position was suspended. He would describe this part of the label's history as "very chaotic", but it didn't stop him from going on.

As the Porterville man said about himself: his work is always a reaction against something. Leaving Revillon was just a new start for his own brand. And so, in 2007 will be created with the help of his muse Michèle Lamy, a new line called "Palais Royal", simply named after Owens first and main store in Paris, located at 130-133 Galerie De Valois in the first arrondissement (opened in 2006). The focus is mainly put on high quality materials such as cashmere, alpaca wool, and furs, in order to perpetuate his work at Revillon for his new small part of customers made when arriving in Paris. This era isn't really documented, but we know that only a few pieces were made each time, only for the Palais Royal store, adorning a special brass engraved tag. We also know that most of the garments made in collaboration with the famous jewellery brand Chrome Hearts (excluding custom orders) were part of this line. 



Rick Owens x Chrome Hearts


In 2011, the line's name changes to "Hun Rick Owens", a sweet reference to the nickname given to his wife Michèle Lamy. Hun line proposes garments staying true to the labels' signature aesthetic, yet distinguishing themselves through the use of opulent materials such as cashmere, alligator, kangaroo, sable and mink with extravagent shapes. Completed with beautiful accessories and pendants made of carved bone, as well as funny bunny plushes. Most of the archetypes designed there are very true to the image of Lamy and her radical sense of style. From what we could see, most of the garments produced were made in France and had a superb hand written tag.


Loree Rodkin wearing a Hun fur jacket, Rick Owens turbo wedges, 2012


Although the Hun line is today seen as the "niche" part of the brand, it still embodies the quintescense of luxury seen by the iconic couple, making the American house one of the most complete and versatile one, oscillating between dark fashion and a modern idea of what is luxury for the new anti-fashion generations of our time. 



Rick Owens stood apart from other designers with his unique take on luxury, it was modern and in pretty high demand, precisely what Revillon craved. His vision was a departure from the ostentatious displays of wealth, a concept he dubbed the "selfish lover" approach. Long before the days of viral TikTok trends, he understood that true luxury lies in the quiet moments of personal pleasure and fused it with Revillon’s DNA:  “They’re not going to be red-carpet furs. I want them to be everyday furs. It’s not about displaying wealth….Today, women buy furs for themselves. It’s more about a woman in a cocoon of pleasure. A lot of our furs are actually just linings under a very humble jacket, so the luxury is all yours.
His work at Revillon brings a fresh innovation of style in order to touch a new audience that doesn't want to show where they belong to, wanting to emancipate themselves from the old-social stereotypes of fashion, a principle that we still see through his main collections...and one of the reason why we still wear his creations to this day.
Tomorrow will be uploaded online (and available in store as well), various pair of boots and a jacket by Rick Owens for Revillon !
Thank you for reading 


 Written by MysteriumMuseum, Jane and QuorthonDu75