Oyster #93: Michele Lamy
I've always been extremely short-sighted, so I'm sure I was very reckless in my youth.
Michele Lamy is revered as one of the fashion industry's true eccentrics. She is best known as wife, muse and creative accomplice of gothic-fashion purist Rick Owens, however, this is just a single facet of Lamy's kaleidoscopic life - teenage stripper, cabaret consort, restaurateur, designer, film-maker, defence attorney and philosophical protegee to the late Gilles Deleuze are but a handful of Lamy's past pursuits. The LA club queen has cult appeal, kindled by an intimidating intellect and an awe-inspiring sense of style. In Oyster #93 we asked Lamy what roles beauty and self-image have played in her colourful life.
Renee Warne: I'm fascinated by what you must have been like as a teenager - did you have the same reckless confidence you have now?
Michele Lamy: I've always been extremely short-sighted, so I'm sure I was very reckless in my youth, as the fog surrounding me encouraged me to experiment a lot. The only thing I can be sure of is that my nose was always close to a book.
Your life has been an exotic pilgrimage, with a lot of exploration along the way. Can you explain some of the different phases you've experienced?
In my twenties, I wanted to escape my rich provincial upbringing, so I abandoned studies as a defence attorney to striptease. I was involved in the May, 1968 protests in Paris, and in the early seventies I wanted to be Bob Dylan. My thirties were spent living the Californian Dream surrounded by artists, and giving birth to my daughter Scarlett Rouge. My forties were an entrepreneurial era in Los Angeles where I met my honey, Rick Owens, and I will spend my fifties enjoying life with him.
Do you still like to experiment with your look, or do you feel you've settled into a routine that works for you?
Routine? No - except, perhaps, running out of fingers for rings and arms for bracelets!
What is your daily fitness routine?
Hammam [Turkish bath], boxing, weights and stretching.
What products do you use to care for your skin and hair?
Henna, oils and kohl.
You often wear a vertical line painted on your forehead. Is this symbolic?
Always. It's what keeps me grounded! I apply it with an eye pencil and make sure it's not too straight.
I've heard you treat your nails with henna. Can you explain the process?
It's not the traditional Indian henna, but a similar Japanese vegetable dye that's used to cover grey hair. It last forever and never chips. It's a good matte black.
You've altered your appearance in some significant and permanent ways, like tattooing your hands and gold plating your teeth. What was the motivation behind this?
To be able to sing King Kong Blues.
What's your view on the rise of tattooing and body piercing in the mainstream?
As with most things, sometimes it fits, and sometimes it does not. I admire Sang Bleu [tattoo art/fashion publication].
How do you maintain the manic energy levels required to manage all of your projects at the moment?
You are often sensationalised as having pagan, occult and voodoo associations. Do you subscribe to any of these superstitions?
Belief is a way to express a memory of your genes.
How would you define beauty?
Getting older with satisfaction and imagination.
Words: Renee Warne
Photography: Nicolas Hidiro