Sorry, I’m in bed. Well, not my bed, it’s…
That’s a lot of information. Whose bed is it?
No, I mean a bed in Paris! Where are you?
I’m walking home in the dark, alone. Everyone got on a bus and left. Now I’m just gonna go and eat up some soup and go to bed. No, I’m not, my team is here. We’re having dinner.
It looked phenomenal. My god.
A drone makes anything look like the Superbowl.
Reading your show notes reminded me of when I came to visit you on the Lido a few years ago, and everything we talked about on your terrace.
I know. I’m still that gloomy guy. The pessimist.
… who sits on the beach with his makeup running down his face. Do you often get those Death in Venice thoughts when you’re there?
I’m probably a little more analytical than most people, but I think everybody is always thinking these thoughts; always thinking about mortality and what they want to get done before they die. That’s what Death in Venice is all about. We’re all trying to grasp our moment of glory and trying to hold on to it. The life lesson is that you never can. You end up dying with makeup running down your face... Now I’m on the terrace that you know so well.
When we were sitting on that very terrace, I remember you saying that when you’re in Venice you’re often very much on your own. Which made me think that maybe you were quite creatively suited to quarantine?
Michèle and I were in the house in Paris. We had a lot of space and some trees. We were super lucky. It’s hard to say that it was lovely, because for a lot of people it really wasn’t, but I’ll look back on it very fondly. We were deepening the bonds with all the people we were FaceTiming. We got closer to a lot of people.
What did you do in lockdown?
Michèle and I did LSD and mushrooms, which we hadn’t done in a long time. It was the right time for that kind of thing. We read books and did little videos. But I hesitate to say it was fun, because that’s not kind to everyone. But I am suited to retreat and quiet and contemplation. I am.
You’re suited to isolation?
Well, I have a recurring dream where I’m talking to someone and there’s construction going on in the background, and all of a sudden I realise a sense of dread: “Oh my god, I forgot that I killed someone and buried them in that plot next door, and I’m going to be discovered!” And then I analyse: Okay, I’m going to court and that’s going to be hideous. But jail time? I can probably get used to it. I like an industrial design, I like reduction, I like the same meal over and over again, I like going to the gym… It really won’t be so bad.
Rick Owens SS21.
What do you think it means?
Sometimes creative people, who put themselves out there, feel like frauds; like they’re going to be discovered. That’s my only suspicion.
I don’t think you can be a creative fraud if you turn out the kind of show you just did after being left to your own devices in confinement for several months.
I wasn’t though, because the minute quarantine was lifted in Italy, I went to the factory and everyone on my team was itching to get going. They emerged with new vitality, vigour and gratitude that we had a new sense of purpose.
Do you think your mentality reacts well to things that can feel menacing?
I hope for the best and plan for the worst. I’m suspicious and sceptical and cynical by nature, so in the end I was thinking, what took so long for there to be a global catastrophe? People are more voracious than ever, and consuming, and greedy, and it has to peak and blow up. Civilisations die, animal species die, things evolve, things turn into something else. We should be used to it.
But as we saw in your show just now, you still support wearing face masks?
I absolutely do, because it’s about being sensitive to other people’s concerns. It’s a significant thing that’s happening and people are dying. I’m not going to insult them by rejecting a mask.
Do you see this as a collection made for the times we’re heading towards?
Every collection is. For the men’s collection, I thought the mask looked like an opportunistic gimmick: “Let’s sell masks!” But now, it seems like absolutely the right thing to do. But I’m always conscious about not inhibiting female models, so I told the models they could take them off if they wanted to.
I didn’t realise the word ‘quarantine’ was coined in 14th century Venice. Did I recognise some Renaissance elements in the collection?
It wasn’t designed with the Lido in mind, but doing a show here just seemed like such a great idea. Venice has a history of quarantine, a history of masks… There were coats with straps sewn into the back so you could take the coat off and strap it around your waist. I usually call them ‘disco straps’ because they’re for the dance floor, but it’s not dance season so instead I called them ‘beach bustles’.
How long are you staying in Venice?
Forever. I’m going to Paris in a few days to pick up my alien residency card. Then I’m going straight back to the factory. I’m very comfortable here.
The Merchant of Venice.
Have you done you letter voting for the American election?
Yes, I promise.