The world has its fair share of iconic duos – fish and chips, Bonnie and Clyde, gin and tonic (we could go on) – and now, Rick Owens and Converse. Following the TURBODRK and TURBOWPN, Rick Owens DRKSHDW and Converse have partnered once again for a new release: the DRKSTAR.
Giving us a distinctly-Rick take on the classic Chuck Taylor 70, the DRKSTAR demonstrates a masterclass on inflated proportions and single-element manipulation. Building on his initial interpretation of the cult-classic shoe, the DRKSTAR works by exaggerating existing design motifs, such as extending the tongue and blowing up the bumper. The DRKSTAR’s detailing also features badge branding, printed insoles and considered stitching. Rick Owens’ distinct dark minimalism shines through, combined with Converse’s contemporary design perspective.
Upon their release, we hit up the designer to get the lowdown on how his childhood impacted the designs, the power in subversion, and his (other) favourite collaboration from Converse.
As a Californian native, how important was the Converse Chuck Taylor to your wardrobe growing up? Do you feel your childhood fashion inspirations played a part in the creation of the DRKSHDW SS14 Ramones?
I always associated these shoes with the way the Ramones (the band) looked, and the blunt but graceful simplicity of their chord changes and lyrics to their songs. They had the perfect jeans, perfect hair, perfect hip bones, and perfect attitude. Their songs have the consistency and logical focus of a Donald Judd installation.
Was there a particular reference point or place of inspiration that fueled the creative approach to the DRKSHDW DRKSTAR collection? Through the addition of breaks in the typical lines usually seen along the mudguard and the extended tongue, you playfully warp our often unchallenged understanding of what a Chuck 70 should look like. Was it tricky to decide which elements of the composition you would alter, or had you known where you would take this design back when you first designed the DRKSHDW SS14 Ramones?
I Frankensteined the classic Chuck Taylor by slapping my overblown bumper and toecaps on top of it. I needed to make them more bombastic. Lengthening the tongue was another way for me to extend and take up more space. If anyone knows me, they will recognise my impulse to make something stick out or drag on the floor. Drama.
I asked to replace the star with a pentagram. There was a strong reaction equating this with satanism, which I admit delighted me, as I have always liked to provoke rigid moralistic standards and bigotry.
As a young and sensitive sissy, I was bullied by this judgmental moral majority attitude and have dedicated my life to balancing out its weight in the world. Affectionately. I use a pentagram to represent a sort of magical and pagan playfulness. I love geometric symbols as man’s efforts to take straight lines to create a sense of order in the face of uncertainty and fear. Drawing a star feels like a magic rite.
If a tie is a universal symbol of respecting a business environment, and if lipstick is a universal symbol of projecting a knowing sophistication, the Chuck Taylor is a universal symbol of being open to a more liberal and creative attitude. I like endorsing that in my own small way.
Lastly, Converse has become beloved for their open-arms approach to collaborations. However, is there a past Converse collaboration other than your own that really caught your attention? Who do you think has utilised the Converse canvas in an original way?
I love the shoes I have done with converse but I think Comme des Garçons did it so much better. No one can match the light touch, but big impact, of that little red heart.