8AM I sleep in my own black cotton boxers. When I wake up I make a coffee and check e-mails. Then I hit the shower, with the TV playing any old black-and-white movie on mute and Julie London on the stereo. (The open shower is in the middle of the bedroom.) I take a minute to indulge in shameless preening. I use Bigen Japanese dye for my hair, and Aesop for shampoos and moisturisers because it’s the only packaging I like. I would use lard if it came in a pretty bottle. It takes me minutes to dress – I’ve worn the same black outfit for years, like a priest. Or a prisoner. I can’t imagine having to choose something that I might sour on later in the day. My vanity is pretty satisfied by the gym; not thinking about my clothes lets me focus more on clothes for other people. And I like sticking with a decision: I have a stack of identical crisp black shorts, a stack of identical soft black T-shirts, and a stack of identical black cashmere turtlenecks. I change shoes every few months. For travel, I carry my own oversize bags in black leather and black python. For day to day, I just use my pockets. I understand the appeal of wanting to have all your stuff with you, but I kind of like the feeling of total exposure and liberation. I used to wear sunglasses as a barrier, but now I’m more interested in receptivity. And the beautiful brightness of the sun just isn’t enough of a problem to wear something on my face that I’ll just misplace or sit on. But that’s just me. I do sell sunglasses for people who like them. I wear the same silver bracelets every day. I sleep, swim, and shower in them. Hun, my better half [Owens’s wife, Michèle Lamy], bought them in a marketplace in Dubai. I don’t really like accessories unless they’re slightly ridiculous.
9AM I live and work in the same building, so I don’t have a commute. If I do have to go somewhere, we have a van and driver, but I usually take the Métro because the van is most often delivering fur to the store or shuttling furniture elements between the ébéniste, the marbrier, and the bronze foundry. (I do a furniture collection that we show in some of the European art fairs like Art Basel and TEFAF Maastricht, and the Dubai design fair. I come up with a few ideas, but Hun does all the magic.) Coming from LA, I never grew up with subways, just cars, so the Métro holds an urban dystopian glamour for me. But almost everything I need is within walking distance. I don’t usually travel with anyone in the car; I need a lot of space around me, but when I travel with Hun, it’s an army of gym trainers, dog walkers, assistants, and young artists.
9.30 AM My first conversation of the day is with my Paris office captain, Sergeant Vandendust, who briefs me on what I have to get done. Then I speak to my CEO, Eleganzarella, who gently hits me with the problem spots of the moment. Next, I speak to Dr. V, my main assistant at the factory in Italy. V is for vinegar, old and bitter – her nickname, not mine. I think she came up with that before I could come up with something worse. At least once a day I mumble to myself, “A hundred years from now no one will care, so get over yourself.”
10.30 AM I’ll have some dry granola around mid-morning; I’m not really a breakfast person. I love to read the blogs Scala Regia and AreaNeo. I used to love An Aesthete’s Lament, but the writer Mitchell Owens (no relation) moved it to Architecturaldigest.com, so I look at it there now. Other than that, I check The New York Times and The Business of Fashion and the weirdest Tumblrs I can find that keep getting shut down. I prefer e-mailing to phone calls – I like how thoughts can be reconsidered, corrected, and improved in an e-mail. Like an old-fashioned love letter. And instructions can be carefully specified and referred to later. Am I robotic? Maybe. I think spontaneity may be overrated.
1PM I walk through the Jardin des Tuileries to my gym, next to the Palais Garnier. I work out for an hour with hardcore techno playing full blast in my earbuds. I used to have a trainer in LA, but now I enjoy the privacy and focus of doing it by myself. I grew up buck-toothed, soft, and pear-shaped – honestly, if I can change, anyone can.
2.30PM After the gym I walk home and maybe stop in the park to answer some e-mails and see what’s blooming or how the little ducklings are coming along. Then I get home and have a delicious organic lunch that’s been delivered.
4PM Naps are a tool I use to pace myself and not get oversaturated. I like having a minute to absorb and reflect and recharge. I feel that it protects the best part of me and uses my energy to its best advantage. It could be a phase I’m going through, and I’ll be an out-of-control terror next year. My ideal day would involve being in my summer office of a cabana on the Adriatic working and swimming and reading and napping without an immediate deadline. Perfect. I used to play music all the time, but as I get older the birds in the garden outside are just so soothing and pure. But when I start prepping a show I usually have Judy Garland or Dorothy Squires or Aretha Franklin playing, something to get me in the zone. Then when my crew arrives it becomes more energetic, with Katie Got Bandz, E.S.G., and Black Asteroid. I also love sentimental show tunes. I don’t observe weekends or holidays, so I go shopping whenever I get the urge. My favourite places to shop in Paris are antiques stores. Galerie Franck Laigneau has a carefully edited selection of German and Swedish Art Nouveau furniture and objects. Galerie J. Kugel has a grand “cabinet of curiosities” vibe – Yves Saint Laurent used to shop there. Fancy. Galerie Steinitz always has the most sumptuous booth at the Biennale des Antiquaires, the international fair in the Grand Palais. A few years ago they had two monumental 1800s marble canopic vases that made my heart stop, so I reserved them. I’ve been having the house evaluated by a structural engineer to see where they can actually go. My prize possession is a Georges Hoentschel urn that was part of the pavilion he designed for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs for the 1900 World’s Fair. I like eliminating more than collecting, but this piece just seems like an inevitable relationship. Regarding books, reading Beverley Nichols is my comfort food and therapy. He wrote a series on gardening in the ’30s that’s about everything and nothing; I would put it on the bookshelf right between M.F.K. Fisher and Colette. Oh, and E.F. Benson.
9.30PM Hun and I have dinner at the corner, where I generally have a cheeseburger and chocolate cake. They fawn over her and ignore me – after eight years they still think I’m her dim-witted gigolo. But we have wonderful family dinners at home outside under huge old trees from the garden of the Ministry of Defense, which abuts our terrace. We live in the middle of Paris, but our neighbourhood is so quiet, it’s like being in the country.
11PM I normally watch the tail end of something black-and-white on TCM to put myself to sleep. If I commit to a movie, my favourites are by Satyajit Ray, Cecil B. DeMille, and Ken Russell. And Fritz Lang’s Die Nibelungen is an all-time favourite. When we moved to Paris I re-created the bedroom we’d had in our bunker of storefronts off Hollywood Boulevard. It’s a monolithic platform slab covered in wool felt; it came from my Joseph Beuys fascination. I asked D. Porthault to produce sheets in my favourite grey, which I then also sell in my stores.
2AM Every once in a while we get the sudden urge to go dancing, so I take a disco nap and wake up to get to the club when the music is peaking and everybody is lubed up and seriously dancing. We don’t drink anymore, so having an espresso before going out is a whole new delirious high. I believe that dancing is one of the purest and simplest expressions of joy, and I feel a moral responsibility to enjoy it.