Rick Owens Offers Respect – The New York Times

PARIS — Every so often a show comes along to remind us of the toll taken on an entire creative generation by AIDS, the disease many people pretend has ceased to exist in the era of PrEP preventive drugs.

Growing up in dusty, dry Porterville, Calif., without a television, and with little access to news from a faraway world populated by oddballs like himself, Rick Owens fell upon the creations of Larry LeGaspi. A visionary designer who, in the 1970s, put Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, the three members of LaBelle, into campy space costumes of channel-quilted metallic leather, disc-like cowls and boots with stratospherically high stacked heels, Mr. LeGaspi exercised an outsize influence on pop culture and yet is remembered now — if at all — because his look was adapted by Kiss.

Mr. LeGaspi died of AIDS nearly two decades ago. And, while he briefly knew commercial success, industry recognition and respect largely eluded him. That is why Mr. Owens, who has long cited Mr. LeGaspi’s subversive effect on mainstream culture as a reason he became a designer, has worked for years on a book about him (to be published later this year by Rizzoli.)

And it is why Mr. Owens dedicated his show on Thursday to the man he considers his creative forefather.

Yet, it was not the pieced napa shearlings; the vertiginous platforms; the patched bomber jackets; the selvage denims; the padded or otherwise slim-cut overcoats with multiple pockets; or even the Kiss lightning bolts that Mr. Owens presented in a quietly masterful show — one that further cemented his own creative reputation — that mattered to this observer.

It was that, particularly at a time when amnesiac designers ruthlessly plunder the back pages of those who never made it far enough to understand or to enjoy their accomplishments, Mr. Owens has the dignity to remember and give credit.

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