Olivier Theyskens has so thoroughly and handily embraced the jeans and T-shirts that are the meat and potatoes of the Theory brand that you could forget he's the guy behind Madonna's gothiest red-carpet moment and the man who made women swoon for Edwardian-inspired gowns at Rochas. For pre-fall, he showed a floor-length silk shirtdress in an electrified mineral print that took you back to his mid-aughts heyday at that French house, with its buttoned-up-to-the-throat neckline, high armholes, and slightly elevated waist. This time around, of course, it has an everyday kind of ease that has become his calling card at Theyskens' Theory since arriving for Spring 2011. More proof that he's clued into his clients' everyday lives: a knee-high boot with a chunky heel and an internal wedge to add an extra inch or so of height—smart.
"I wanted pre-fall to be a bit darker than Spring," he said at his Meatpacking District studio. An artificial rock, of all things, inspired the collection's warm palette, along with the prints, which ranged from abstract line drawings on what could be the world's softest tank tops to a tiny flower motif on a short dress with floaty ankle-grazing skirt panels. Another cool idea in a similar silhouette: super-wide-leg pants with a split panel in back. "I was scared of my own drawing," he said, when pointing them out on a model. "But now I love them." Yep, he's definitely getting the hang of this thing.