Paris Fashion Week has begun; Olivier Theyskens is back. He launched his eponymous label in 1998 but discontinued it four years later, in 2002 beginning a series of stints at Rochas, Nina Ricci and Theory. This summer it was announced, exclusively by the Business of Fashion, that Theyskens would be reopening his eponymous label. This movement will see clothes retail at the higher end of the luxury ready-to-wear market. There won’t be pre-collections, just Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Theyskens is showing no signs of buying into the damaging madness of the current state of the fashion industry, and all it’s demanding requirements—he’s self-funding the project which allows this freedom. The team has been kept small, with only four to five people working in the atelier, Theyskens, and the CEO, Maximiliano Nicolelli.
This type of operation is unheard of in fashion in 2016. Younger designers should look to Theyskens as an inspirational figure, even if they don’t hold his darkly beautiful aesthetic in esteem. There is something to be learned here: work hard, build up a career and reputation, garner a wealth of experience—in the end, it presents the ability to fly solo, on your own terms.
Theyskens aesthetic is surely business magic. He fuses minimalism and avant garde in a palatable way. His delicate mannerisms grasp attention subtly. Things are refined but proportionally experimental. The mix between minimalism and avant garde is one purveyed by Theyskens’ fellow Belgian: Martin Margiela. An essential figure in the vocabulary of the most successful modern designers; Theyskens’ eponymous label explored similar motifs in his collections. In 2016, however, refinement took centre stage over the avant garde. His Spring 2017 show was told through the restricted colour palette of black, slate grey, white, and dark red.
The collection bore few cerebral touches. He interacted with proportion in ways similar to his time in the late nineties and early aughts, except, here much of that was diluted, to cater to a customer with a cleaner vision, fond of sharp lines. There was a slate grey blazer show, with wide, pointed lapels—an exemplary display of Theyskens’ tailoring prowess. Ditto, a lacquered croc abbreviated dress. To close the show Theyskens sent a black, sweetheart neckline evening gown down the runway. The model glided, the dust-sweeping train followed loosely behind. It was reminiscent of a dress he presented in his Rochas days—a time when conceptuality was also subdued.
“I always embrace couture, as well as the reality of beautiful clothes,” Theyskens shared with Lauren Sherman, in the BoF interview in July. These were beautiful clothes, surely, but in 2016, virtuosos like Theyskens can’t rely just on that.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com