138 posts tagged "Jason Wu"
Each week, renowned artist and fashion illustrator Cédric Rivrain unveils an exclusive drawing on Style.com. See fashion through his eyes, below.
Adriana Lima in Jason Wu
“Knot-gathered gray clouds of satin open on a delicate nude waist.” —Cédric Rivrain
Ralph, Oscar, Calvin, Karl—most of today’s top designers don’t even require a last name. But who’s next on the road to worldwide, decades-long fashion fame? Vanity Fair has a few ideas. For the publication’s September issue, VF‘s fashion market director, Michael Carl (who you probably know as @carlscrush on Twitter), rounded up the industry’s most-sought-after young designers to ask them how they got their big break, who their dream clients are, and about their least favorite trends. Jennifer Fisher hit it big when Rihanna wore her jewelry, and Jason Wu credits Michelle Obama for making him a household name. (He was quick to voice his opinions on acid-wash jeans, too.)
The designers also posed with their “muses” for a group shot photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. Joseph Altuzarra tapped Dree Hemingway, Tabitha Simmons brought Karen Elson, and Public School’s Max Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow enlisted Sebastian Stan. Watch Vanity Fair‘s full video hailing upcoming design talents, above.
Fashion loves a comeback, and since Olivier Theyskens parted ways with Theory, the contemporary American sportswear brand, back in June, industry insiders have been plotting his. Is the 37-year-old Belgian designer being considered for a role at Oscar de la Renta, as has been whispered in New York? Could Milan be an option? Sources say he has taken meetings in the Italian city this summer. Or will he return to Paris, where he enjoyed editorial accolades as the creative director at both Rochas and Nina Ricci?
Tastemakers began falling for Theyskens back in the late ’90s, when he dressed Madonna in haute gothic style for the Oscars. With a reputation burnished by stints at Rochas and Nina Ricci, he was an unlikely fit for Theory, a brand built on stretch pants, but his show quickly became one of New York fashion week’s must-sees. Approval ratings started out strong; there was excitement about scoring clothes with the designer’s famous name on the label without dropping four figures. Over time, however, the reviews became more skeptical. In February, Theyskens presented a Fall ’14 Theory show without his name attached, and four months later the brand and Theyskens severed ties. As it stands now, the designer’s track record is one of ups and downs. Does that jeopardize his prospects? Or could the fact that he has experience across different continents and different markets count as an asset? Now that Theyskens is a free agent, Style.com spoke to fashion influencers about his future.
As he dusts off his résumé, Theyskens is looking at a shifting designer landscape. LVMH and Kering are currently signing on designers both younger and greener than he is. LVMH crowned Jonathan Anderson creative director of Loewe at 29. Christopher Kane and Joseph Altuzarra were 31 and 30, respectively, when Kering made its investment in their burgeoning brands. Yes, Nicolas Ghesquière, at 43 and newly installed at Louis Vuitton, is older than Theyskens, but Ghesquière’s Balenciaga tenure was longer and more successful than Theyskens’ Paris gigs. The other trend he could be contending with: Brands are hiring relative unknowns. See Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, recently hired away from The Row to replace Christophe Lemaire at Hermès, and Julie de Libran, the new woman helming Sonia Rykiel.
Insiders don’t see things quite so dimly and are hopeful that he will find
the right match this time.
“Olivier has a great design sensibility. At a time when many things look like other things, he really stays true to himself—that’s what I respect,” says Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus. “I think if there were an opportunity in New York, it would be great for him,” he continues. “It’s not so much about location on the map as it is about a house that will understand his talent.”
Magali Ginsburg, head of buying & category management for The Corner, which sold Theyskens’ Theory “very well,” sees the designer as “the perfect candidate for a house,” especially because “he [is one of] those designers who when they come on board bring with them a more and more savvy crew of customer followers,” ultimately raising a house’s international reputation.
If not a position at an established house, why not his own label? “I know there are a lot of people who said he wasn’t commercially successful, but I was at Barneys and we sold it,” says Julie Gilhart, now a freelance fashion consultant. “He had a following, and it wasn’t the Nina Ricci or the Rochas customer, it was the Olivier customer,” Gilhart continues. “I’ve always thought that Olivier could do his own thing. When I met him, that’s what he was doing, his own thing. It’s what I want to see for him. He’s one of the great designers.”
As a designer accustomed to the machinery of a big brand behind him, starting out on his own could be daunting. But here in New York, Theyskens has watched other designers—Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung—launch careers by putting red-carpet dresses on the backs of celebrities. And anyone who remembers Irving Penn’s portrait of Nicole Kidman in Rochas knows that Theyskens makes a sublime gown. If he were designing at that level again, Kidman and co. would presumably line up to wear him.
Still, even with A-list endorsements, it can take a decade for a brand to come into its own, and even then it cannot live on eveningwear alone. Wu has branched out into accessories; Gurung counts knitwear among his biggest developing categories. This is where Theyskens’ experience at Theory could pay off, the thinking being that his design vocabulary is much broader than when he arrived in New York four years ago. And his comfort level with everyday is a lot broader now than it was when he arrived. “It broadened his range,” says Neiman’s Downing. “As we all know, he loves couture and does superlative evening pieces. Theory opened up a new vocabulary about sportswear, and living in New York was good for him to see how people on this side of the pond live, dress, and work. It’s a different sensibility than in Europe.”
Anne Slowey, Elle‘s fashion features director, says, “I like what he did for Theory—there is a place for luxury normcore. But I don’t know if it was right for the brand. Unfortunately, Olivier has been miscast all along the way. He’s either too ahead of his time or too far out in left field. Eventually fashion will catch up with him.”
With the industry firmly behind Theyskens—unlike, say, John Galliano, who, since leaving Dior amid a hate-speech scandal, has received support from some influential corners but has yet to redeem himself in the eyes of American retailers—he’s got a good chance of scoring a new gig. But even if he doesn’t land a job quickly, Theyskens isn’t about to fade from fashion’s collective memory bank anytime soon. An Olivier Saillard-curated exhibition set to open at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in December will feature a dress from one of the designer’s earliest signature collections. For now, there’s the virtual museum that is Instagram. #oliviertheyskens.
Since Spring ’13, Jason Wu has enlisted Inez & Vinoodh to lens his recurring installments of Supermodel Supper Club (a phrase, he told me, he somewhat ingeniously came up with while at the dentist yesterday morning). His campaigns have featured mega models posing at iconic New York eateries—Stephanie Seymour was snapped at La Grenouille, Christy Turlington at Mr. Chow, and last season Wu took Karen Elson to enduring hot spot Indochine. Swanky, no? But the designer’s Fall ’14 ads, starring show-opener Adriana Lima at the storied Four Seasons, might just take the proverbial cake. “Fall is all about a power woman, and I chose the Four Seasons because all the powerest of power lunches happen there,” offered Wu over the phone. “I felt it was really glamorous.” The campaign debuts exclusively here.
Wu recalled that his first experience at the uptown haunt was one such lunch about seven years ago. “It was when I first got into the industry, and I was meeting an editor. When I walked in there, everyone looked so important! I felt like a little kid. But I’ve been going there ever since.”
So why was Lima Wu’s Fall ’14 supe of choice? “She’s sexy, and there’s this feline-esque prowess that felt appropriate for the clothes. And she’s got those eyes! She’s like our own Bianca Jagger,” he said. “Adriana is a new take on the supermodel—she’s from a different era. At the end of the day, these ads are about the women and the sexiness, and I continue to choose women who inspire me.”
Naturally, I wondered if Wu would be making his signature campaign cameo this season—and don’t fret, he is. “Inez always insists,” he laughed. He apparently played a bit of dress-up on set, too, admitting that he tried on a few of hairstylist Shay Ashual’s wigs. “Maybe I’ll be the model for the next Supermodel Supper Club,” he joked. “In all seriousness, could you imagine me sending that to you? The nerve!” Full disclosure, Mr. Wu, I would absolutely love it.