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August 28 2014

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89 posts tagged "John Galliano"

Free Agent: How Bankable Is Olivier Theyskens Post-Theory?

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Olivier TheyskensFashion 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.”

Nina Ricci and Rochas

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.

theyskens theory

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.

Photos: IndigitalImages.com; GoRunway.com

John Galliano Takes Another Step Toward Recovery

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RUSSIA-COSMETICS-LUXURY-FASHION

In a candid interview with French newsweekly Le Point, John Galliano opened up to psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik about life since his 2011 fall from grace. The designer, who recently took the reins as creative director of Russian perfumery L’Etoile, also spoke at length about facing persecution for his sexuality as a child. This marks one of only a few interviews Galliano has granted (last year he spoke with Vanity Fair and Charlie Rose) since largely departing the public eye. He reportedly pitched the Q&A to Le Point as a step in his recovery program, which includes three meetings with a psychotherapist. But Galliano seemed optimistic about the future, telling Cyrulnik, “I’ve lost, but I also gained a lot. I’m a creative person, and no one can take that away from me.”

Photo: AFP

Tim Blanks Revisits Galliano’s “Wedding in Hell” for Dior Haute Couture ’00

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Dior

Maybe you’ve heard enough about the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones, but have you ever compared it with John Galliano’s Christian Dior Fall ’00 Couture show? Probably not. In this week’s Throwback Thursdays video, Tim Blanks revisits Galliano’s “wedding in hell,” which was simultaneously beautiful and savage. Rather than dressing models in the same hair and makeup, there was a twisted cast of characters: a “sadistic priest,” a gladiator, a wicked mother of the bride, a devil on a leash, and countless more “psycho dream creatures” Galliano dreamed up for the lavish nuptials. The entire show was more like performance art than a runway show. “It was kind of a glorious lunacy,” Blanks noted. We couldn’t have said it better. Click here to watch the full Throwback Thursday video.

Christian Dior in Black, White, and Color

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Cecil beaton dior

Christian Dior may have been reserved in person, but he left volumes of quotable lines about his work. One example: “Black and white could be enough.” Apt for this particular season, and also for the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, Normandy, where it is writ large on the wall at the exhibition Dior: The Legendary Images: Great Photographers and Dior, open through September 21.

“Museums are almost replacing books. [An exhibition is] like a living book, and that’s especially true for [ones about] fashion,” noted the show’s curator, Florence Müller (Though it should be note that Rizzoli has released a book corresponding with the show, and the tome is pretty impressive in and of itself.) “What’s beautiful about fashion photography is that beyond an iconic piece like the Bar jacket, you have the makeup, the look, and all the refinement of a time that makes you dream. In the end, it’s like a film. It’s magnified beauty.”

Black and white might well have been enough: Hollywood-worthy moments abound in the exhibition. Alongside the Bar suit is Pat England’s original shot of the ensemble at Dior’s first presentation of the New Look, which made the designer a star overnight in 1947; there’s Richard Avedon’s Dovima and the elephants; a Marc Riboud shot of Audrey Hepburn exuberant over a dress in 1959; an early fashion series by Irving Penn; house images by Willy Maywald; iconic images of the model Renée by Henry Clarke, Beaton, Blumenfeld, Newton, Demarchelier, and beyond—all in black and white. Then comes vibrant color, from the first fashion shoots in exotic locales by Norman Parkinson, Corinne Day, Sarah Moon, Steven Klein, Bruce Weber, Mondino, and Inez & Vinoodh, the duo behind the house’s current Secret Garden campaign. But rather than present Dior’s photographs chronologically, Müller sought to bridge past and present thematically, which led to a few surprises—not least a trove of color negatives freshly unearthed from the Elle archives.

Dior

“It’s always thrilling to rediscover something you thought you knew by heart,” notes Müller, who started by leafing through sixty years of fashion magazines—the French editions of Elle and Marie Claire and the archives of Vogue Paris and American Vogue. “In the case of the Bonbon dress from Dior’s winter 1947 collection, we found an image by Emile Savitry we’d never seen before—and then we realized we actually had the dress,” she notes. The Chantecler dress from the controversial 1954 ‘H’ collection is echoed in a vintage photograph by Clifford Coffin, a star lensman in his day (one of his photographs headlines the exhibition). The Trapeze dress from Yves Saint Laurent’s triumphant 1957 debut at Dior is front and center in one display. Another archival picture of a last-minute fitting of a dress once worn by Rita Hayworth finds an incarnation upstairs, in a 2012 iteration by Raf Simons.

“Exhibitions should be a spectacle—beautiful, strange, curious, bizarre,” said Müller, citing John Galliano’s Tibetan-inspired creation and his 1997 Masai-inspired outing. “When you stand back, you realize that a fifties dress could be contemporary, or that the contemporary creation was completely in the spirit of what M. Dior liked. You realize that fashion is not a museum,” Müller concluded. “It’s an ongoing conversation.”

Photo: Courtesy of Christian Dior 

Milliner Stephen Jones Talks Rei Kawakubo, Lesbian Geishas, and His Latest Fragrance

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Stephen Jones

In 1985, British milliner Stephen Jones and Rei Kawakubo, the design visionary behind Comme des Garçons, met at a duty-free shop in Anchorage, Alaska’s international airport. Jones didn’t recognize her, hilarity ensued, but ultimately that chance encounter has led to thirty years of collaboration. Not only does Jones design hats for Comme des Garçons’ men’s and women’s collections, but he’s also created two fragrances—one black, one white—with the brand. The second, dubbed Wisteria Hysteria, launched at Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market New York this week.

To celebrate the scent, which comes in a miniature white hatbox lined with a netted white veil, Jones has dug into his archive to put twelve of his CDG toppers on display. The all-white exhibition is accompanied by a film installation featuring director Henry Pincus’ eerie video for the eau. “Hats are a bit autobiographical,” Jones told us. “I take bits from my life and put them into my designs.” It’s no surprise, then, that he can recall the story behind each chapeau. For instance, the Fall 2010 Funnybone fascinator—a crystal confection shaped like a broken femur—was conceived after Jones had leg surgery. “I was sketching from the hospital!” he said, laughing. Fall 2002′s epic quilted ostrich-plume bonnet, garnished with crystal chinstraps, was intended for the “most glamorous Inuit you’ve ever seen.” The most significant hat, however, is the simplest—a white felt beret from Fall 1985. It was the first style Jones ever made for Kawakubo.

Yesterday, over coffee at DSMNY’s Rose Bakery, Jones spoke to Style.com about Wisteria Hysteria, working with Kawakubo, chipped black nail polish, and more.

Your first fragrance with Comme des Garçons was black, and your second is white. Why?
Because of the simplicity and purity. I always think the ultimate hat is a black hat. It’s just a contrast between the skin and the blackness and the graphicness—I mean, everybody from Irving Penn to Richard Avedon and even painters focus on black and white. If you look at amazing Tudor paintings or Dutch paintings, the subjects are wearing black with a giant white collar against a black background. They’re so powerful. And I love the complexity of black—it can be shiny black, matte black, transparent black, and that’s also something that Rei really explored very early on in her career, like, different qualities of black. And looking at your nails, I have to say, on my first day of college in 1976, which was the year of punk, I also wore black nail polish.

Mine’s quite chipped, though.
Honey, who wants to have perfect black nail polish? I want it chipped! I’m sure at the Met ball last year they all had perfect black nail polish, which was so uncool. What you need to have is a dysfunctional boyfriend with eye liner on—yesterday’s—and chipped black nail polish. That’s sexy.

I love the way you play with the black and white duality in the Wisteria Hysteria film. Can you tell me about it?
It’s directed by Henry Pincus, who’s an old friend of mine, and it’s got kimonos in it by L’Wren Scott. It was so weird because six months ago, when I was telling her about my fragrance, I hadn’t worked out the name yet, but I told her, “It’s going to be wisteria, but it’s white.” And she said, “You’re not going to believe this,” and showed me the sketch of an outfit embroidered with wisteria. It was a total coincidence. So we used it for the commercial, and the rest is very sad.

Why did you decide to have Charlotte Tomas, who plays both characters in the film, perform a nude kiss at the end of the short?
Because they’re blending. I like this idea of two characters that are actually one person. That’s the whole angel or devil thing. When we launched the film, there were lots of comments on the Internet like, “I don’t know what it smells like, but I like the idea of lesbian geishas.” That may be the next fragrance.

What is the relationship between perfume and hats? You’re the only milliner I’ve known to launch a fragrance.
Well, it’s really to do with the head. First of all, when I’m trying hats on a woman, I’m above her, and because of that, I always smell her perfume. But hats are almost more about beauty than they are about fashion. Yes, of course, they have to coordinate with your clothes, but they really have to work with your face—that’s the important thing. And hats are very close to you emotionally in the way that hair is and the way that fragrance is. I love this idea of a perfumed, hatted world—it’s a bit retro. That’s our whole world: black hats, perfume, femininity, looking after yourself, preciousness. So often nowadays women are told they’re not supposed to feel like that because it’s sort of indulgent or something. Well, hey, isn’t self-indulgence part of the raison d’être of hats and fragrance? We need that fantasy, because everything else is not about self-indulgence—paying your mortgage, work, your children, etc.

How did you start collaborating with Rei Kawakubo?
It’s very funny, actually. I was in Paris in 1985. We’d been to the Gaultier men’s show, and the next day, we were flying to Japan. I was at a nightclub and I was trying to leave with my assistant, and all these people were coming up to me and saying, “Stephen Jones, I really like your hats,” and my assistant was on the other side of the dance floor looking at her watch, like, “We’ve got to be up at 6 in the morning.” That was a big bubble coming out of her head. Anyway, we got into the cab and she said to me, “You just have to say ‘Thank you very much’ and move on.”

So the next day, I was in the duty-free in the Anchorage airport. In those days, when you flew from Europe to Japan, you had to go through Anchorage because you couldn’t fly over Russian airspace. And this Japanese lady comes over to me and says, “Stephen Jones, I like your hats.” And I said, “Thank you very much,” and moved to the next aisle. And then she came over again and said, “Stephen Jones,” and I said, “Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” and moved away. And I could see my assistant literally doing the one-minute mile, like, “Idiot! That’s Rei Kawakubo.’ So then I turned the color of beetroot and we laughed about it, and we went to Tokyo and she invited me for dinner. I went to their offices, saw a little bit of how she works, and she asked if we could collaborate. There’s a hat in the exhibition, the white beret, that’s from the beginning of that collaboration.

When you’re working with Rei, is the creative process different than when you’re designing for your own line?
In a way, it’s very different. When I’m doing my own collection, I’m creating—mentally creating—the story in the background. Hats are so much about a story, even if it’s a simple one. When I’m doing hats for Comme des Garçons, I will normally get a brief, like “black” or “animal” or “romantic.” But sometimes the brief will be “there is no brief.” It tends not to be about specifics because, ultimately, what Rei does not want is something that I think looks “Comme des Garçcons.” She loves the hats to be the bit of spice in the collection, so she likes something that almost has nothing to do with the collection. She loves that sort of randomness and the fact that it doesn’t look too studied. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t—sometimes I take a load of hats out of a box and she says, “They’re not right.”

And what happens then?

Well, first of all, I burst into tears! [Laughs] Often she will say, “I don’t like those, but I like this one.” And then I’ll very, very quickly work out with her in a five-minute conversation what she wants. She might say, “Can I have some more like that?” Or she’ll say, “Oh, I want to show them inside out.” And I’ll say, “Ehhh, OK?” Sometimes it really doesn’t make sense to me, but when I see it on the runway, it makes perfect sense. You know, every hat that I’ve ever made—especially for designers—is really like having a conversation. I make hats out of conversations. So I have conversations with Rei and her husband, Adrian Joffe, and it’s a very special arrangement.

Why do you think Rei chose—and continues to choose—you to make Comme des Garçons’ hats?

The reason that Rei wants me to do the hats is because, of course, I bring my taste and flavor, but she always says, “You’re an English gentleman hatmaker.” And for her, the history or authenticity I bring as an English milliner is extremely important. I think that authenticity is crucially important for her clothes, and this environment [Dover Street Market], too.

Stephen Jones at DSMNY

Was selecting the hats for this exhibition a nostalgic experience?
Yes, because I remember making each hat. It’s funny—I can’t remember my phone number or the day of the week, but I can remember each hat. And with those memories come a million different feelings. But I didn’t choose the hats around the concept of Wisteria. I think what I do is a bit Hysteria, anyway. All of it! I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. In the fashion business, we think we’re terribly normal. But all of our friends think…

…that we’re terribly mad. Has approach to millinery changed over the years?
There are certain things that have changed and certain things that have remained constant. Something that’s remained constant is that I still believe hats are about self-expression. They’re an adventure, and they create a persona in a really charming way. Often, you put a hat on and you become something. I still believe in all of that. Things that are different? I’m better at making hats than I used to be; I have much more of a design range because I’ve collected so much fashion knowledge along the way. I’m 57 now, and I remember working with Thierry Mugler in 1983. You amass experience. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that I still love what I do.

I have to ask you, why do you think Pharrell got so much flak for wearing that fabulous Vivienne Westwood hat?
Because he was doing something different. He was sticking his neck out. And you know also, people are thinking, Oh, pop star, you’re supposed to be wearing a baseball cap. But he doesn’t want to fit into that pigeonhole. If you put a baseball cap on him, it wouldn’t feel convincing. And Westwood’s Mountain hat is such an amazing hat, not that I’m jealous or anything. He looked fantastic.

You’ve been making Dior’s hats for decades. I’m curious, how is working with Raf Simons different from collaborating with John Galliano?
It’s totally different. Hats were really a very strong part of John’s design language. Working with Raf, I mean, I knew Raf before he came to Dior because we worked at Jil Sander together. But hats aren’t such a part of his aesthetic. I’m still doing hats because Dior has a real hat market, so we carry on selling hats, but they’re not in the show. There were no hats in the [Resort '15] show last night. But I’ve been doing other things for Dior, too. Remember those neck bows from ready-to-wear? I did those. So I’m doing scarves and things using millinery techniques, but applying them to different areas of the body. It’s a whole new thing for me, and a real adventure.

Photo: Courtesy of Dover Street Market New York