Who is Michele Lamy?
Michele Lamy is one of those few real eccentrics that fashion world left to us. She is best known as wife, muse and creative accomplice of fashion designer Rick Owens, but she has been a clothing designer, performer, film producer, and restaurateur. She was one of the emblematic figures of Los Angeles underground night city in the middle ninetieth as she was the owner of the famous cabaret-restaurant “Les Deux Cafes”, a successeful club situated in a parking lot. Between 1997 and 2003 you could find her in this club until she left after meeting Owens through his then-boyfriend and hired him as a patternmaker for her own line, Lamy. In 2003, and by that point heading up the successful Rick Owens label, the pair migrated to a five-storey mansion in the Seventh Arrondissement of Paris where they now live and work.
About this woman, with the tattooed fingers and gold plated teeth, had been said a lot: she’s Algerian, a gypsy, she was born in a resistance camp in occupied France, was raised by wolves in the Ardennes, she’s an arms dealer, a vampire, a witch and she’s 1600 years old. The truth is she’s Parisian and used to perform in a cabaret. As she said talking about her life “In my twenties, I wanted to escape my rich provincial upbringing, so I abandoned studies as a defence attorney to striptease. I was involved in the May, 1968 protests in Paris, and in the early seventies I wanted to be Bob Dylan. My thirties were spent living the Californian Dream surrounded by artists, and giving birth to my daughter Scarlett Rouge. My forties were an entrepreneurial era in Los Angeles where I met my honey, Rick Owens, and I will spend my fifties enjoying life with him.”
The strange couple Michele Lamy-Rick Owens seems to be the perfect pair ever. Although there were rumors about Owens homosexuality he said “Frankly, in the beginning, I made a point of bringing up my sexuality just because I wanted it before anyone else could. I was with Michele and hated the idea of someone whispering to her “you know, I think your husband’s gay”. I was going to say it first. I didn’t want anyone to think they could embarrass me or Michele.” Sexuality doesn’t seem to be a problem as they complete each other perfectly, both in private life and work: “It’s kind of like asking a fascist and a gypsy to organise a war together,” says the designer, “She’s just so generous and so flexible with deadlines and I’m not. She likes the complexity and eccentricity of working with artisans and I don’t always have the patience for that. The furniture is customised, esoteric, involves rare materials. She loves that.”
Owens described her as “a mesmerising sphinx. I’m so fascinated by someone who acts completely on instinct and feelings, where I’m so pragmatic and sensible and kind of, compared to her, boring and conservative.” Actually she really looks like a sphinx, wearing a kind of egyptian Nemes (Klaft) in black and wearing a vertical line painted on the forehead: “it’s symbolic”, she said, “it’s what keeps me grounded.” As a sorceress, Michèle looks at the occult as a part of our humanity, she has a collection of voodoo masks and pieces of anthropological artifacts that she finds alluring. She dresses as Goddess, a shaman and when asked if she ever subscribe to any superstitions cult, pagan, occult or voodoo, she answered: “Belief is a way to express a memory of your genes.”
sources:anothermag.com; oystermag.com; interviewmagazine.com; what’scontemporary
I found out about Michèle in 2008 by knowing she was Rick Owens’ wife. She dipped her hand in dye and had gold teeth, and the first time we met she was everything I thought she would be plus more. We talked a little about fashion and life, but mostly about art. We developed a really good relationship through art and she mentored me, guided me in the right direction as far as tasteful art, preference and aesthetic. She taught me the difference between Renaissance masters and contemporary artists, and I’m still learning.
I love the fact that she’s open-hearted. Also, she knows her position in life. Michèle is involved in shaping and changing a lot of things as far as life, culture and art go. She reminds you of a mythical creature, because you don’t think this person exists until you’re in the presence of them.
She shot my last album cover for At. Long. Last. ASAP. She curated it and also gifted me a ring which is similar to hers, which I’m wearing on the cover. We worked on a few films together as well. One of the things I learned from her is that anyone can do anything at this point, but not everyone does it right or good.
We both have permanent diamonds and jewelry in our teeth, but aside from that, our outlook on life is very similar. I’m always conscious, precautious and aware of my moves, but being around Michèle, our relationship, rapport and whatnot enhanced it and helped it evolve. There’s only a few people who are geniuses, like Danger Mouse or Frank Ocean – she’s one of those, but for fashion. She’s the Dark Queen of Fashion. And I’m still sorry about not wearing her favorite Comme dress on the cover of my album, like she wanted me to!
Rick Owens (husband)
When I was in my rock crystal crib my wet nurse was warned of a demon that would hunt me down and violate me. During the LA riots as we were looting the same store, I saw her through the tear gas as she was loading an alligator bag with brandy half-pints while smoking a cigar. Blood rushed to my bone, I peeled inside-out and hovered in the air. I joined her in her waiting car where she fisted me for the first time with the fires raging around us. Then we walked about the eternal cosmic truth. She already knew everything about me before I was born and I always knew she was my destiny. I like her scorn as much as we both like the full weight of her foot on my neck. Our life is a continual shimmering shuddering slow motion glitterbomb explosion. I never know when she is going to stab me. But one day I am going to shoot her in the head. Right before I shoot myself.
I first saw pics of Michèle on the internet. Later, I found out that she was a fashion instructor, and after that I found a jersey skirt from her own line. I remember wanting to use a piece of Rick’s furniture at a performance I did in Basel, and asking her to borrow it. We’ve talked about mostly furniture, but when I met her on other occasions we spoke about broader concepts. My impression is that she is a deep soul who has been here in multiple lifetimes.
Yasiin Bey [AKA Mos Def]
I don’t remember exactly when I met Michèle. She’s been a friend to Rakim for some time and he and I are close, and of course her partnership and marriage to Rick is well known. I do remember seeing photographs of her online and being very intrigued and inspired by her presence. After reading more about her life and work I felt that she was someone I needed to meet. I had no plans or designs on what that would mean or if it would even happen, but I felt it would and should. While in Paris some years ago I called my long-time friend and collaborator Samira Cadasse and asked if she could set up a meeting. We met very soon afterwards at Le Palais – I’m happy and grateful that we did.
Michèle has a very dynamic personality. She’s engaging, funny, warm and direct. She has a great curiosity and energy about her. Our conversations are like any good conversations: A useful, positive exchange of experiences and perspectives across a wide range of topics – art, family, travel, etc… She’s very easy to talk and listen to. There’s also usually food involved, and Michèle eats very well. I feel a real shared value around food with her. I find a meal with Michèle to be very nurturing and fun – super food, super vibrations.
I’m not sure Michèle is someone you describe – I think she’s someone you experience. (If you’re lucky.) I find her to be a person of depth, and these types of people I don’t think can be reduced to simple descriptions, because ultimately, based on that character they define themselves. I think we share a curiosity about life and the world around us. An enthusiasm for ideas; a love of beauty, strong perspective and adventure; great food; and boxing! I do miss going to Temple Boxing in Paris with her. The last time I was there with her the trainer and I accidentally butted heads, and I had to get five stitches over my eye. It sounds worse than it was.
By Red Bull Music Academy , September 2017