Style.com
Subscribe to Style Magazine
15 posts tagged "Kering"

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

-------

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

People Are Buying a Lot of Saint Laurent Dresses

-------

Saint Laurent

Despite their hefty price tags, which range anywhere from $2,490 to $68,000, Saint Laurent dresses are in seriously high demand. According to Bloomberg, Hedi Slimane’s frocks have been selling so well that they’ve compensated for Gucci’s declining handbag sales and helped to raise parent company Kering’s profits by a whopping 4 percent. Looks like there are more moneyed scenesters out there than we had originally thought.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo/ Indigitalimages.com

Justin Chu and Mijia Zhang Win the “Empowering Imagination” Student Design Competition

-------

parsonsblog

It started with fourteen graduating Parsons BFA Fashion Design students. Each one presented their thesis collections to a panel of industry insiders, including Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier, Style.com’s Dirk Standen, and others, to win a young designer’s dream opportunity. All fourteen Parsons and Kering “Empowering Imagination” finalists debuted their collections exclusively on Style.com, and today we are pleased to announce the winners.

parsonsblog2

Justin Chu (top) and Mijia Zhang (above) received top honors, and honorable mention goes to Ximon Lee. In addition to internships with one of Kering’s twenty-two luxury brands, both winners will receive mentorship from Style.com. Take a closer look at the winners and all the finalists here.

Grads Show Promise at the Annual Parsons Fashion Show

-------

Parsons

“You never leave Parsons,” Simon Collins said from his perch onstage at Wednesday’s fourth annual Parsons Fashion Show. His statement rang true, because yesterday’s show was just as much about the Parsons family as it was about showing off the graduating seniors’ final collections. Editors, photographers, and an endless wave of students crowded into the school’s state-of-the-art University Center at 63 Fifth Avenue, where Milk Studios’ Mazdack Rassi and Parsons alum Chris Benz spoke about their experiences with the school, the importance of having a point of view, and how the brand-new facilities are far superior to the “dump” Parsons used to occupy in Midtown. A series of videos also played in between mini fashion shows, with cameos from Donna Karan, Anna Sui, and Style.com’s Dirk Standen.

“Parsons is all about collaborating,” Collins said. He was referring to the school’s own collaborations, which range from an Allen Edmonds capsule collection to the Parsons/Kering “Empowering Imagination” Competition, which is featured on Style.com this week. “If you’re a brand or you work for a brand, you know you can’t really guarantee being on the homepage of Style.com,” Collins said. “But Parsons can.” You could tell that these BFA students are born collaborators, too. They showed a firm grasp of the current market, sending out boxy coats à la Proenza Schouler; layered knits that called to mind Burberry’s Fall ’14 show; and even Fendi-inspired luxe fur accents, like those on Wenqi Wu’s covetable sheared tunic. We would wear those pieces tomorrow. Each student had a defined point of view—Ximon Lee cites the clothes of Russian street children as his starting point—but at the same time, the show felt cohesive. Not an easy feat. These students spent four years (or more) playing off of each others’ ideas and aesthetics to finish with a range of high-quality, very impressive final projects. You could picture them being an asset to any design team—although many dream of becoming the next Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, or Anna Sui, all Parsons alums who are still very connected to the school. Following the students’ upcoming graduation, we can see why they won’t want to leave the clan.

Photo: Courtesy of Parsons the New School for Design 

Christopher Kane on the Agony and the Thrill of Being a Designer and How It’s Changed His Life

-------

Chris KaneChristopher Kane was drinking green juice at the Carlyle last Tuesday. The designer was Natalie Massenet’s date at the Met Gala the night before and at the Top of the Standard and Up & Down after-parties that followed it. In the eight years since his award-winning graduate Central Saint Martins collection (newsflash, ladies: Those neon-hued bandage dresses might be making a comeback), Kane has become London fashion’s most successful export. Net-a-Porter shipped his clothes to eighty-six countries last year. Eighty-six! 2013 was a big year for him all around: In January, Kering (then PPR) took a majority stake in his business. Remarkably, as this interview shows, he remains one of the most candid, down-to-earth, and downright funny designers around. Before he headed back across the pond to prepare his Resort collection for a presentation next month, he sat down with Style.com to discuss everything from his impressions of Charles James’ gowns (“very sexual”) and his favorite TV show (“Game of Thrones“) to what’s on the docket for the rest of 2014. Look out, Mount Street! Kane’s first store is scheduled to open on the Mayfair thoroughfare in November.

How has the Kering investment changed things for you and your brand?
I’d say we’re now solely doing what we want to do. Before, we were run ragged—we were doing everything from admin to silly things, it was just relentless. It feels [like] I can enjoy myself again. Sometimes it can really take it out of you and you can think, What am I doing? All of a sudden this happened and it’s a huge sigh of relief.

At Net-a-Porter’s dinner for you last week, the site’s president, Alison Loehnis, said they shipped your clothes to eighty-six countries last year. That’s a lot. What are your goals for 2014 in terms of sales, and otherwise?
We’re looking for a new CFO. Our store opening is projected for November in Mount Street [in London]. Mount Street is having a bit of a renaissance. Céline’s just opened. It’s a really nice community of designers and labels, I’m really honored to be on that street. We’ve also launched the handbags, and we have an in-house accessory designer now. Men’s is doing really well, and we’re building more categories within the men’s.

In his recent reviews, Tim Blanks has remarked about the astounding number of ideas that are in your shows. Do you see Kering’s investment and this creative surge going hand in hand?
I’ve always had a huge library of ideas, but it’s so good to have the facilities to do more product categories now, like tailoring and leather goods. If you don’t do it [an idea], someone else might, so I just have to get it out there. I hate an idea to go stagnant, to go a bit smelly. The season I joined Kering, everyone was like, “It’s such a big show, you must’ve gotten so much money.” Actually, that show was produced with the same [amount of] money as the season before. It was just a celebration, it was not about spending a lot of money.

Among the things that resonated on your Fall runway were the nylon and fur pieces. Where did those ideas come from?
I’ve always loved fur, and I suppose with the nylon, it was that outdoor feeling. It feels good, it’s also quite sensual, it’s very like skin. I liked the contrast. There’s also that rich, pure quality. The show was centered around mink and nylon, everything came from there. It started quite clean, and then it becomes who knows? The nylon became ruched, it looked almost like a trash bag, but I liked that. The end dresses were based on books, pages, and things falling. So, a lot going on in that collection.

Christopher Kane

Were you a big reader when you were a kid?
No. I still don’t read now. I wish I was that kind of person, but I’m just not. I’m really impatient. I like the impact of the visual. Growing up, I liked TV.

What were your favorite shows?
The Clothes Show with Jeff Banks—it was a big deal in London. Jeanne Beker on Fashion TV. Even Elsa Klensch. She always made everything really intellectual. I was addicted from there on.

That’s where you discovered Versace?
I used to love watching Versace, and then it became Versace and Helmut Lang. They were my two favorites at different periods in my life. I used to sit and record with a VHS tape and stop and start and write Atelier Versace 1:20 till two minutes…It was like a log. I was nuts.

I think of Versace and Helmut Lang as quite different. Do you see similarities?
I think they were both pushing boundaries, and that’s what they were so good at. I think they’re really similar in that sense. They loved their jobs and you could really see that. They put their hearts and souls in it. Gianni and Donatella, they really stood out because the landscape was quite bleak, whereas they were like, Bam! In your face. Women really wanted to look like that. That power. Helmut had that same vision of these powerful women—to stand out.

Helmut is still so influential.
That’s one thing that I’m always very aware of. If I’m doing anything that looks like something [someone else did], I’m like, “No, out, get it out.” Tammy [Kane's sister and business partner] is always going nuts with me, saying, “No, it doesn’t look like that.” And I’m like, “No, it does,” and I have to scrap it or I can’t move forward. I’m very defensive about it, but you need to be because it’s your work. I’d never want to bastardize someone’s work and take it as my own—it’s destructive.

Other than Versace and Helmut, are there other designers who you admire?
I’m always very focused on what Tammy [and I] are doing. But you can’t help respecting what other designers have done. Rei Kawakubo, Miuccia Prada…and Raf is doing a great job at Dior. Working for Donatella was a highlight. I’ve got respect for everyone. It’s really hard being a designer.

It doesn’t show with you.
That’s funny. I’ve got pictures of myself from five years ago and pictures of myself now, and it’s just like, “Really?” Everything’s changed. Is it because I’m always hunched over my desk? Yeah, I think it’s starting to show. I’ve got a huge plan when I get back to London. Yoga, I’m really loving that again. Being a designer can be agony, but I suppose it’s like being in love. There’s pain, but you love it.

You’ve always struck me as a designer who knows how to balance work with having a good time.
Yeah, that’s why I’m drinking green juice.

How do you explain other big names copying? I think it might be because some designers are removed from the work. They’ve got such big teams.
I just don’t think there’s any excuse. It’s not right. If it not’s OK for a small designer like me, the big brands should be even more conscious of it.

Christopher KaneWhat about the other way around? Do you see trickle-down Christopher Kane ideas?

Everywhere. One collection in particular has always been referenced by a lot of people, and that’s the Spring 2008 collection, the one with the snakeskin, the ruffles, and the denim. That was a time when people were like, “Oh, my God, snakeskin is so cheap.” And I was like, “Really? Really? So that’s why it’s everywhere?” Or neon. When I did neon, everyone was like, “It’s so cheap and nasty.” So that’s why everyone’s doing neon this and neon that. Neon’s the new black. Listen, it’s a fabric, it’s a color, but those collections have been referenced a lot. And my lace and ring dresses from Central Saint Martins, there’s one designer who really rubbed me the wrong way, but I won’t even go near that. They’re my babies—that’s what set me off.

Those dresses made such a mark. What a debut.
I remember doing those dresses and being so terrified to show [my professor] Louise Wilson. I thought she was going to hate them. At college, there are the Comme des Garçons people, the Helmut people, they’re all trying to be that designer, and I’m like, “Why don’t you just be yourself?” That first knit dress was made from stockings and tights that I got in the market because that was all I could afford. I took it in, the model had a robe on. Louise said, “Where the fuck have you been?” That’s how Louise would talk. She said, “What have you got to show me?” The model took off her robe, and—that’s when Louise used to smoke—she took a puff and said, “That’s fucking great. Do another six and come back to me.” She was so tired of seeing the same old rehash of other things. It probably cost about 10 pounds to make. They’re now in cold storage. It’s great to bring them back out. It’s hard sometimes, but I look at them, and I say, “Well, if I could do that then, I can do it now.”

Were those dresses produced? I can’t remember.
Some of them were, yeah. Some of them we did in very small quantities. I think they might be coming back, you never know.

Things move so fast in fashion. Is that difficult for you?
I was really lucky. This whole idea of Resort and Pre-Fall, when we started that was still unknown. We really grew into them. There came a time to do them because we were at the right level, whereas you do feel sorry for some young designers. They run before they can walk because they’re expected to. It’s not fair. It’s hard doing one collection, never mind six. Back then you could have a life. Now it’s like deadline: fabrics. You’re picking fabrics two seasons ahead. You know when you pick something, that color will come up somewhere else and you won’t want to use it, but you’ve got all this fabric. You’re in the hands of the suppliers, basically.

Now that you’re in the position you’re in, what things, if any, do you wish were different about the fashion business?
There’s so many. No, really, we’re really blessed, but being creative is really tough. To be creative every day is brain damaging, you can’t do it. It does really suck it out of you. But the pace is so fast that you have to force yourself. That’s when it’s hard.

What do you like to do on your downtime? TV?
All the time. That’s the only thing I get to do. And that’s why exercise is going to play a big role when I get back. [laughs]. I’m in love with Game of Thrones. I didn’t get to watch Sunday’s episode, though. I was doing Natalie [Massenet]‘s fitting [for the Met Gala], and I kept telling her, “Natalie, we need to hurry up.”

You’re part of a fashion resurgence in London. Do you see people coming up behind you that interest you?
First, I don’t think it’s ever been bad, London. Hussein Chalayan, his shows were groundbreaking. The McQueen and Galliano period. It was always great. Look, there’s lots of good talent everywhere, but London has the best art schools in the world. When I was in Scotland, art was never seen as a career option. London is a very creative city.

Many of your peers in New York have taken over big European design houses. Are there any brands you’d like to put your imprimatur on?
Of course, it’s a dream to have the facilities, but I’m fine [where I am now], I’m still young. I’m quite focused on my brand, and my brand is just as good. I love it. I’ve got enough on my plate right now, that’s an honest answer. But I’m not going to lie, of course. Where would I go? It’s nice to see fashion changing. What Raf’s done at Dior is really brilliant. I think it really needed that, and now it really stands alone. You want to wear it. I love what Alex is doing at Balenciaga, good for him. Hedi Slimane. There’s always a negativity around what he’s doing at Saint Laurent, but I like it. I think he’s really clever and he’s one of the most important designers ever. And Nicolas at Vuitton—it’s Nicolas Ghesquière, how can you not like it?

Last question: What did you think of the Charles James exhibition?
It was very sexual, a lot of the draping and the structures. I don’t think I was the only one who noticed. But the dresses were perfection, you can’t deny it. Dior called him a master, Balenciaga really loved him. In his day, he was the real thing.

Photos: BFAnyc.com; Alessandro Garofalo / Indigitalimages.com