Lamy left Los Angeles in 2003. “We moved to Paris because Rick Owens had to move there,” she says, using his entire name as if I might not know who he is, or that he’s right behind her in the room, within earshot. (Owens came to Paris to serve as artistic director of the venerable French fur company Revillon.) But Lamy still loves Los Angeles, and quickly rattles off several spots she would take a first-time visitor to the area: the arts district downtown; the skatepark and boardwalk in Venice Beach; Palm Springs, where she once got her fingers tattooed; the fabled Chateau Marmont. “I would even take them to the Valley!” she says. When she talks to me about LA she adds, pointedly, “where you are!” I’m going back to LA, where you are! I was coming back from LA, where you are. It is an endearing point of connection from a woman who clearly misses the place.
Lamy’s assistant, Janet Fischgrund, has arranged to have a copy of Rick Owens Furniture, a lovely coffee-table book from Rizzoli, messengered over to me from the Rick Owens clothing store in West Hollywood. For years, Lamy has collaborated with her husband on a furniture line, which tends more toward the artistic and the minimalist (a recent show at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art featured pieces constructed from marble, concrete and ox bone) than to the practical or cozy. The book is unlike nearly any other furniture book you might happen upon: part travelogue, with stops in Tuscany, Dubai, Montreal and the Dead Sea; part family photo album, with portraits of the couple by Danielle Levitt and Jean-Baptiste Mondino; part art book. A photo of an “antler stool” crafted from poured aluminum, with two horns where your buttocks would go, is next to a close-up of Lamy’s front teeth, which feature several small diamonds embedded in the gold fillings.4 There are pictures of toilets made of rock crystal, shots of cigarette butts and TV remotes in the couple’s home, which is part of the five-storey building at the Place du Palais Bourbon (site of the French National Assembly building) where Owenscorp is headquartered, and candids of Lamy driving a forklift in one of their factories and walking in the snow of St. Moritz.
The captions in the books are one or two words long, so I ask Lamy to explain what’s happening in a few of the photos. In one, labeled “Hollywood, December 1995,” Lamy is standing in front of two enormous photographs that look like 1950s mug shots. Her left arm, adorned with a stack of bracelets, is on her hip; in her right hand is a cigarette, held aloft as if she were a glamorous figure advertising it. She looks like a model. “This picture was taken when I was building the Les Deux Café, and Rick had his studio across the street,” she says. “That was his first [fashion line], it was not even a collection, then,” she says. They both lived and worked at the studio. It was a time of intense creation for Owens and Lamy, she says, a “carnival time.” “This is one of the more joyous pictures,” she says. “And I think I look good in it.”
“I like to perform, the more people the better. If it’s a bigger venue and a lot of people, I’m floating in the air!”
In another sequence of photos, labeled “Mons, Belgium, 2013,” Lamy is looking intently at enormous slabs of marble. “This is in a quarry of black marble, the only one left between Belgium and France,” she says. “You have to go 60 meters underground to see it. They take the marble with dynamite.” She was there to find large, blemish-free slabs of marble for the Rick Owens furniture line, to be later fashioned into beds and chairs and tables, some weighing in the tons. Lamy learned quickly what to look for and how to find the most beautiful specimens (“no veins”), she says. Then she spins off into a series of stories about an enormous mosque in Abu Dhabi crafted out of white Sivec marble, and how black marble came to be black (something to do with coal), and how, now, “because we have to save the world,” they and others are looking at “liquid stone,” which, in the end, just sounds like concrete. “So that’s another interesting story,” she says. It is, in fact, several interesting stories, emerging one from the other and sometimes wrapping back into the original story, sometimes not, which is a pretty decent way of describing what it’s like to talk to Lamy.
In another photo, captioned “Ebenisterie Dagorn, Saint-Fargeau-Ponthierry, April 2016,” Lamy is pushing a broom across a factory floor. Surely there are others who could sweep up? “Perhaps everyone was on a truck going somewhere,” she says. “But somebody has to do it.” She considers. “Or perhaps I did it as a joke?”