Michele Lamy: Adorned and Unfiltered
“These were some of the first shoes Rick ever made when he was in Hollywood,” said Michele Lamy at the opening of Show and Tell: Calder Jewelry and Mobiles last night. Lamy—the wife and muse of Rick Owens—was referring to a pair of sky-high, heelless black platforms that she wore while effortlessly climbing the spiral staircase of Salon94‘s uptown gallery. Lamy had come into town from Paris to style the exhibition, which showcased the oft-overlooked crowns, earrings, necklaces, and cuffs (most of which are for sale through Salon94) crafted by twentieth-century sculptor and painter Alexander Calder. “I screamed when I first saw the jewelry,” professed Lamy during our interview, pulling her tattoo- and ring-covered fingers to the chest of her Comme des Garçons vest. She flashed a smile, exposing her gold and diamond teeth. “I’m such a fan of his.”
In addition to styling models for the event, Lamy enlisted artist Matthew Stone to snap Polaroids (with Andy Warhol’s camera, no less) of guests donning Calder’s creations. Furthermore, she’s working with artist Youssef Nabil on a Calder-centric photo series, which will star such characters as Debbie Harry, Cindy Sherman, Björk, Joni Mitchell, and Cher.
Although Lamy is most frequently associated with Owens, whom she met in her forties, she’s led an enthralling and utterly eccentric existence all her own. “It’s like she’s had ten lives,” said artist Carson McColl, who flew in from London for the fete with his boyfriend, Gareth Pugh. Considering she’s spent time as a cabaret dancer, an L.A. club kid, a fashion designer, a law-school student, and a stripper, he was hardly exaggerating. Here, Lamy talks to Style.com about Rick Owens’ Spring show, Calder’s work, and her taste in jewelry.
This exhibition celebrates an artist who also made jewelry. Do you think that jewelry and fashion are art?
That’s always the question! Some think art is unique pieces, and the Calder pieces are unique. If you do your own piece, it could be art. It’s very difficult to know the difference. Calder’s pieces were made by hand, and I think that makes it art. Clothing is more difficult because you have to produce more of it.
Do you think what you and Rick create is art?
I hope our life is.
Are your and Rick’s creative visions always in line? Do they ever differ?
They differ, but he always wins. If you don’t have the same aesthetic values, it’s difficult to live with somebody. If you don’t have the same political ideas or whatever, it’s fine. But if somebody says, “Oh, I like this,” you have to know what it is and feel the same way. Because he’s the designer, he’s the one at the front, and then I’m navigating. He’s the captain, but I’m pushing him.
You’re the current.
I recently interviewed Nicola Formichetti, and he said that Rick’s Spring show “changed everything” and that he and the other designers who watched it “were all jealous of his genius.” What is your reaction to that, and how did you feel about the show?
It was extraordinary to come [to the States] after the show, because it was around Halloween and there were people who went dressed as Rick Owens steppers! I told him immediately that this was a statement. The show was such a burst of joy and emotion. Those girls rehearsed themselves. It’s what they do, and all their hearts were in it. It was a burst of humanité, générosité, and loving, and everything was fantastic. Rick said that it was so real that he’s not going to try to top this show…of course, we’ll see. You know, in New York there was a discussion about [race on the runway], and then [people said] that Rick did this show and it was the answer. But it was just a spontaneous gesture—wanting to express how you feel about yourself to the world.
Did you and Rick know the show was going to be such a significant moment?
You can never know what’s going to be a massive moment. It was five months in the making, but those girls came the day before, and they left the day after. They never even rehearsed with their outfits. I think it was so real that even if it had been a press fiasco, it would have been incredible. But when you saw it, you knew it couldn’t be a press fiasco.
You’re not exactly hurting for adornments. What draws you to a piece of jewelry? Does it have to have a special meaning, or is it just aesthetics?
You know, I think of it like an African tribe, where you have to carry everything with you, and it’s part of you. It’s like, you can go away and live on your jewelry. The noise of my jewelry is very important to me, and feeling rings on my fingers is very sensual. But it’s the same for both my tattoos and my jewelry—I think they have to reflect the person. I love tattoos, but most of the time I see them on people and it’s not their style or their personality. I feel that jewelry has to be your story and represent where you come from. Maybe the story will change, but the emotion has to be in it.
What is your most meaningful piece of jewelry?
You know, it’s changed. I would like it to be a piece of Calder here! But I don’t think so. These pieces are amazing—they were made from brass, by hand, with a story. Yesterday, at the Calder foundation [in Roxbury, Connecticut], I saw his rings, and I love his rings. I wanted them to encrust my fingers—all of my fingers! There is an expression of something very human—it’s not just putting a big stone on yourself. There’s no social status connected to Calder’s pieces. However, the problem with old pieces by a master is that they usually end up in a museum—when they should have a life. But everything I have now is significant. I have this little ring from Matthew [Stone] that says, “Love Changes Everything.”
What is inspiring you right now? Are there any young designer’s that you’re excited about?
Clothing designers? Yeah, that J.W. Anderson. But right now, I think the youngest of them all is Rei Kawakubo. It’s not an age thing. She’s the most amazing person. She’s creating now a whole other thing. She is extraordinary. So if you’re asking me about a new one, it’s Rei Kawakubo.