Owens studied Chinese at Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles, for two years before dropping out and taking pattern-making and draping courses at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, leading to work in the garment industry doing knock-offs of designer clothing.
His own label, begun in 1994, found a following, selling exclusively to Charles Gallay, a pioneering Los Angeles retailer who kept Owens in business for several years.
In 2001, Rick Owens joined forces with the Eo Bocci Associati group to internationally develop the Owenscorp company and his production moved to Italy. That same year, Kate Moss posed in one of his leather jackets for an editorial shot by Corinne Day. Later that year Annie Leibovitz photographed Owens and Kembra Pfahler, the designer’s controversial muse, wearing his designs for the Vogue US September issue. He showed his first runway collection in September 2002 during New York Fashion Week. The show was sponsored by American Vogue and Anna Wintour lists him as one of her three “Most Fabulous Recent Discoveries”. Owens' look has been described as "glamour-meets-grunge".
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