Editors’ letter

For the first time in 20 years, Rick Owens has recently been spending time in Porterville, California, the suburban town where he grew up. Ostensibly to care for his 88-year-old mother, inevitably, he’s also been confronting his sometimes troubled past, and perhaps coming to terms with what’s happened since he upped sticks and left as a young adult. In conversation with Tim Blanks (p.54) he recounts the ensuing years: uncertainty, frustration, loneliness, self-destruction, graft, conviction, acceptance, wealth, influence, and ‘more success than, as a 19-year-old art student, I could ever have imagined.’ For Rick, who recently turned 60, it’s been not so much a ‘journey’ as a topsy-turvy rollercoaster ride. And it remains freewheeling and self-defining each year, each season, and through each collection he designs. Long may it continue.

Elsewhere in this issue (p.300), fellow American designer Daniel Roseberry opens up about his own coming-of-age tale, and its influence on the dramatic surrealism he’s bringing back to the house of Schiaparelli. It’s a story of Christian guilt, the shame of sexuality, and sense of destiny that a career in fashion design could offer a pathway to self-acceptance.

In Beijing, young designer Dingyun Zhang also tells of coming-of-age (p.340). Of how he’d sit in his bedroom fashioning sneakers made from paper and cardboard that he dreamed would be worn by Kobe Bryant. Since then, as well as the colossal puffer jackets that have quickly made his name, Ding has designed real sneakers. For Yeezy, no less. At the personal request of (Kan)ye. His is ultimately a story of how fashion can transform hope into opportunity.

But far beyond the safe confines of fashion, our thoughts turn to Ukraine, and those for whom hope and comfort have never felt so acutely distant. Olya Kuryshchuk, founder of 1 Granary, and Venya Brykalin, fashion director of Vogue Ukraine, each write passionately and with humility about how they’re coming to terms with the realities and uncertainties of experiencing their nation at war (p.136 and 138). Rather than dismissing fashion as flighty or frivolous, it’s become a focal point for both of them, a catalyst for action, activation or simply acceptance, at a time so preoccupied by fear. ‘To have something I love so much is the world,’ says Olya. ‘Fashion is what allows me to keep going.’

Taken from System No. 19.