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Legaspi

By Andrew Lovett-Barron
Published in Reading
September 28, 2021
2 min read

I’d been hunting for this book for some time before I finally found it last month. As part of his 2019 Larry collection, Rick Owens (and team) compiled a loving retrospective on its muse, the fashion designer Larry Legaspi, who passed away from AIDS in 2001. You probably know Larry’s work. If you’ve ever seen a photo of the band Labelle, KISS, or Grace Jones bedecked in something futuristic, you were probably looking at a Legaspi piece.

It’s pretty easy to find photos from this book online, but a bit more difficult to find the words in between these photos, and that was what I had been drawn to in the first place. I’m pretty fascinated by Rick Owens, partially because he seems to revel in process and introspection publicly — much more than his peers in the fashion community. The only other I’ve seen, who speaks as articulately about process, is Virgil Abloh (who is also very much worth learning about). So when Owens explores another designer and levels that simply framed introspection at the life of an inspiration, the conversations are going to be pretty interesting.

Throughout, Owens takes the approach of recording interviews with those who knew Larry in life, who wore his clothes, worked beside him, and loved him. The interviews themselves are lovely, mostly exploring Legaspi’s life becoming himself — through his sexuality (Legaspi was gay, but married to Valarie Arnhoff), discovering his practice, starting and running his fashion label Legaspi, and exploring conversations between fashion, technology, and theatre. It’s a pretty fun read — from one friend’s story of overlap between Larry and Salvador Dali, to his getting involved with KISS after their initial DIY fashion sprint, to the parties of the seventies before AIDS cast a pall over an era and countless lives.

Finally, beyond showing many of Legaspi’s archival pieces, Owens designs some of his own in direct homage and features them in this work. The broader Larry collection is honestly one of my favourite from Rick (Larry, 2014’s Vicious, and some of his most recent from the Covid lockdown era), but these direct homage pieces are worth exploring. Quilted leathers, angular cuts, and material explorations make for an interesting and exciting series.

Anyway. Massively recommend this book and learning more about Legaspi. It’s pretty expensive to buy direct from the Rick site (linked), but what I’d suggest is exploring around on eBay or second-hand book stores if you’re interested. I managed to find my copy for about 20 GBP shipped, and am very happy with it.


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Andrew Lovett-Barron

Software Designer and Researcher

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