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Five Questions for Christopher Owens

Christopher Owens, photo by Sandy Kim

In 7x7’s September Fashion Issue, we revealed intimate portraits of San Francisco indie singer-songwriter Christopher Owens, formerly of Girls. Seen for the first time in print, the evocative black-and-white images were captured by none other than Hedi Slimane, the fashion designer who became famous for his men’s skinny suit at Dior Homme and later for his soulful photographs of young musicians.

This month, as Slimane prepares for his much-anticipated fashion week debut as the creative director for Saint Laurent Paris, Owens too is embarking on a new chapter in his career. Here, the crooner tells the behind-the-scenes story of his shoot with Slimane and hints at what he’s up to next. To see Slimane’s images, pick up a copy of the September issue on newsstands in San Francisco.

How did you meet Hedi Slimane?
Hedi had heard of my band, Girls, and had seen some write-ups. He was at Coachella in 2010, shooting photographs, and came to watch us. He took a few photos during the show and, from what he's told me, decided then that he'd like to follow up with some portraits. I think he liked my androgyny—I performed in make-up. It was over a year until we actually met up. I had been a fan of his work at Dior.

What was it like working together?
I was nervous at first, of-course. For one, he's so famous. And two, I had never done anything that high-profile alone in front of a camera. But he put me at ease straight away. We shot at his house, no studio or stylist. He knew what he wanted and directed me, but mostly he let me be myself and got to know me as we talked. He treated me with respect. What you see in those photos are two shy people who like each other, getting to know each other for the first time, with just a certain amount of playing it cool on both sides.

Then what happened?
We've since become friends. I like him. I look up to him. [There have been] many more [shoots] as a result of our friendship. Twice when he came to San Francisco on business, I had him over to my home as a guest. I had a blast asking him what Gore Vidal and Frances Bean Cobain were like, I took him on a private tour of Golden Gate Park—I'm an amateur tour guide.

It's a season of change: Hedi is set to debut his first Saint Lauren collection and you've recently left Girls. How do you deal with change?
I embrace it in fear, I do things to forget the fear—the show must go on. But the best thing is just staying busy. I love to work, I love to write, and I always have. So, in a sense, the objective of my change is to change as little as possible. I don't know about Hedi, but my current changes are mostly relative to the people I'm working with, and how I’d like to present myself, not within my work. I still have the same goals, and some unfinished business.

So, what's next?
Like John Lennon said on the radio once, I sing and play the guitar. And sometimes I play the fool. I think I'll be exploring the same things as he did. And hopefully, I'll be continuing my love affair with San Francisco for a very long time.