Courtney's Loves: The Icon Talks Rick Owens, Independence, and Personal Style
While the trends of the 90s continue to dominate the forefront of modern fashion, there's no better style icon to look to than the queen of grunge herself: Courtney Love. She's championed red carpets around the world with unforgettable designer looks and reached the hearts of her rock'n'roll followers by thrashing on stage in early-20th-century garb alongside her band, Hole. We're pleased to present an exclusive, curated selection of pieces from Courtney Love's archive—from once-in-a-lifetime grails like the very suit she wore in Saint Laurent's Fall 2013 campaign shot by Hedi Slimane to vintage Hysteric Glamour t-shirts. Before shopping her closet, read about Courtney's relationship with fashion, her search for independence, and how an album she released over 25 years ago anticipated the ambitions of her listeners today.
Ten-percent of the proceeds from this sale will be donated to Stand for Courage, a Seattle-based foundation that provides students with strategies and resources to help prevent bullying in middle and high schools.
We’re so excited to be sharing this incredible assortment of clothing from your personal archive with our community.
Heroine has done an amazing job curating pieces from my closets that they felt would be loved and utilized in the way they deserve. My wardrobe is a valued part of my life and certainly my identity. As I release some of these pieces for others to love, I make room for new acquisitions, that eventually I will pass on as well. I love little more than an exquisite piece of clothing, and I am thrilled to share these pieces with the Heroine community.
What is the one piece of clothing in your closet that you would never get rid of?
At the moment, I fetish over my tea-stained Chloe blouse–it is always amazing! I also love this pair of boots I bought in 1986 in Duluth, Minnesota, which is the birthplace of Bob Dylan. But to say I would never get rid of a piece of clothing is inaccurate. I love fashion and I love sharing that with others–so, while I certainly hold some pieces more dearly than others, I will not grasp tightly to material possessions. When it is time to pass something along, I will do that with pleasure, as I believe that ultimately, clothing should be worn or displayed in a way that allows its beauty to be seen.
You consistently incorporate vintage into your wardrobe. Where does your affinity for things like Edwardian nightdresses come from, and how do you look for them?
I am attracted to three amazing vintage dealers: Lauren Lepire at Timeless Vixen; vintagetextile.com; and antiquedress.com. I spend hours searching these sites and others to learn more about vintage clothing, and find Lauren in particular, with whom I have worked for over 15 years, to be an amazing teacher. I have more recently been interested in pieces like the Delphos gown, from Mariano Fortuny, originating from the earliest part of the 20th century. I find it a true luxury to be able to acquire fashion of this quality, at this level, and I truly appreciate those who can both curate and care for luxury vintage to allow these pieces to survive and continue to be enjoyed.
Your friendship with Rick Owens and Michele Lamy spans several years: Michele supported you at the Women in Creativity Series in London in 2016, and in 2017 you attended Rick’s show in Paris. Tell us about your friendship with Rick and Michele and how it came to be.
This is a wonderful question because these are people I value deeply. I first met Rick and Michele through a dear friend and brilliant costume designer, Arianne Phillips. Rick was working in the shopfront across from Hollywood and Vine, where I bought my magazines–I think this was in the mid-1990s. He was a hard worker with big arms and a small showroom, and his design technique and aesthetic was like nothing of the time. Rick was considered an up-and-coming designer in the 1990s. He did cuts and colors on felt, on chiffon (when he could afford it) and on industrial textiles–but mostly, he would work a crazy magic on cotton. What he did was incredible at the time: He left LA, where all designers seemed to come to die, and he went to Paris. Rick and Michele are wildly wonderful life partners, as she is as amazing as he, and has been the best muse for him.
Sometime in the early 2000s, when Moulin Rouge! was being cast, I was at Charles de Gaulle Airport with my band, and this amazingly chic Parisian girl flew by me. All I could see was her amazing leather jacket, and I chased after her. I stopped her, as I was out of breath, and asked her if Rick had designed her jacket, and he had! I was so proud to see that–so proud of him to see his craftsmanship on this girl. It filled me with a total Angeleno pride. Rick was fully formed as a designer when we met. He could dress me in burlap or felt, satin or wool, and I would feel amazing–and I still do, to this day.
It has been nearly 25 years and Live Through This is just as relevant as it was in 1994. In light of the current state of American politics, do you feel that the record has taken on a new meaning?
The state of politics evolves and takes many forms, but the oppression of individuals, human suffering and pain—that remains as a constant throughout history. Live Through This contains a collection of songs that rally for survival and defiance—from Miss. World: "I’ve made my bed, I’ll lie in it, cry in it, die in it” to Violet: “Go on, take everything, I want you to.” These lyrics ring true 25 years later because they scream for independence and individual dignity. It is that scream that is critical as much now as ever—scream for your right to be safe in schools, scream for your right to marry whom you choose, scream for your right to worship, vote, celebrate as you wish, and scream for the rights of others to do the same because others may not have a voice.
Your unapologetic sense of life and self has made you a heroine for so many women around the world. How have you maintained such a clear, grounded identity throughout it all?
I have not been “grounded,” I have merely been consistent. I am consistently authentic, consistently seeking knowledge, consistently trusting my own instincts. I could never pretend to be a perfect Hollywood starlet so, I never tried. I am a practicing Buddhist, I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all humans and the interconnectedness of all life, I support music and the arts, I am grateful for the blessings in my life, and work constantly to take the challenges as opportunities to grow.
What makes you feel the most free?
Independence. Without trying to restate the obvious, in my career so many people try to control me, my choices, my money, my words, and this takes us back to your earlier question: independence, individual dignity, consistency, authenticity—these are all about independence to me. These represent my right to make my own choices, to create and share the art I want to, in the way I believe is necessary. I believe that each of us are responsible for our own destiny, and the best I can do for this world is to continue to be my authentic self and share that with others.
Tell us about your charity of choice, Stand for Courage, which is focused on anti-bullying. Why did this non-profit stand out to you?
My sister Nicole started Stand For Courage, an anti-bullying charity that works with schools and the community to reduce bullying. It’s been awesome and inspiring to see her program working in schools already.