Rick Owens Talks About His Rogue Male Model

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Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com/BFA NYC

Rick Owens isn't one to turn down a chance to air his feelings about anything. As he tells Surface magazine in its September issue, when model and longtime Owens muse Jera disrupted his show with a death threat against Angela Merkel, he didn't hold back. "I was pissed at that moment. I thought, 'Hey, this is my spotlight, and you fucked it up.'  The whole reason I hit the guy was I knew if I didn’t react very strongly it might get out that this was some stunt that I had planned. Everybody had to know how strongly I disagreed with this. I don’t mind drama, but I don’t like death threats." He adds that he hasn't spoken to Jera further about it: "It was really a self-destructive gesture."

Owens also speaks about two much-discussed previous collections of his: his fall 2015 men's collection, which featured full-frontal male nudity, and the spring 2014 women's show, with its cast of non-model step dancers. About the former, he says, "That was really about: Let’s consider a world where there’s no shame. Why did your parents teach you that your penis is ugly? All the most conservative or vehement reactions were: 'How disgusting! Why would anyone want to show a shriveled up nutsack like that?' And: 'Why was it so small?' It was amazing that the second thing was why was it so small? Like, [w]ho taught you as a child that it was supposed to be bigger? And that it was ugly?"

As for the step dancers, who marked a notable example of the real-people casting phenomenon, his take falls somewhere between empowerment and condescension. "When those women were on the runway doing what they did, they were absolutely convincing. They belonged there. And there was something important in the fact that they didn’t look ridiculous. Maybe seeing that, other women would say to themselves, 'If I had confidence, if I fixed myself up a little bit, and if I wore a Rick Owens outfit, I would be beautiful, too.'" With a laugh, he adds, "I don’t mean that last part about my outfit." Confidence, apparently, is best accessorized with a pair of Pilgrim shoe sneakers.