Having made his name in Europe and lived in Paris for twelve years, Rick Owens' return to Los Angeles is a poignant one. For the Porterville, California-born designer, LA is where he cut his teeth; at the city's Otis College of Art and Design where he studied fashion design and then at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College where he learned pattern-making and draping.
'Hollywood is about self-invention and that's where I invented myself, so opening a store there is kind of a special moment,' says Owens of his first Los Angeles store, which joins the designer's growing portfolio of outposts in locations such as Paris, London, Milan, New York City and Miami.
The new flagship is a former ribbon factory, built in the 1920s and located on La Brea, just along the block from 'The Plaza Salon Bar' – a Mexican drag bar where Owens spent time partying 20 years ago. To renovate the 450 square metre warehouse space, Owens enlisted the talents of his long-standing architect Anna Tumaini, with whom the designer has worked with for over nine years on everything from his stores to his private apartments in Venice and Concordia.
Theatrical in its execution, the space is an homage to American filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille. Ceilings are high and supported by massive angular beams while dramatic features such as a 'fog wall' – a shallow floor-to-ceiling glass tank that fills with a billowing ejaculation of fog every five minutes - capture the imagination. An abstract swimming pool in the centre of the space takes the form of a floor to ceiling tank releasing slow-rising bubbles, while an empty open courtyard with white walls – that Owen's likens to a movie screen – reflects light around the space.
'All of these movie references sound pretty corny but they're sincere,' says Owens. 'Epic biblical movies were the first idea of exoticism I could cling to growing up and have influenced everything I do. This store is as close as I might ever get to recreating that. I hope Mr DeMille would approve.'