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August 23 2014

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19 posts tagged "Loewe"

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

BREAKING: Christophe Lemaire to Leave Hermès

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Christophe LemaireAfter four years heading up womenswear at Hermès, Christophe Lemaire is leaving the French heritage house to focus on his eponymous label. Spring ’15, which will walk down the runway in Paris this October, will be his final collection for the brand. “Working for Hermès has been a great pleasure, a profoundly enriching experience on both a human and professional level. I am proud of what we have built together. My own label is growing in an important way, and I now really want and need to dedicate myself to it fully,” offered Lemaire, who replaced Jean Paul Gaultier when he took the reins in 2010. “I am very grateful to Christophe for the passion with which he has addressed and enriched the expression of our house in women’s ready-to-wear. Under his artistic direction, the métier has renewed its aesthetic and produced very satisfactory financial results,” said Hermès CEO Axel Dumas in a statement.

Now, of course, the guessing games will begin as to Lemaire’s successor. Hermès might argue that its brand is less dependent than most on having a “star” designer, and in recent months the house has been increasingly keen to raise the profile of Bali Barret, who, as artistic director of the women’s “universe,” oversees a number of the métiers, including the womenswear. Still, it’s intriguing to think what would happen if certain big-name designers took the helm or if Hermès was to go the route that Loewe recently took of hiring an up-and-coming talent like Jonathan Anderson. On the other hand, there were always those in the industry who felt it was Helmut Lang’s ultimate destiny to alight at the French luxury firm. That seems unlikely, but stay tuned.

Photo: Getty Images

“This is it. This is me. And I want you to come on my journey”: Jonathan Anderson on His Honest Debut Loewe Campaign

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LoeweLoewe

Despite what designers may tell you, there are few things in 2014 that are truly new. Everyone is inspired by something, whether it’s iconic photographs from decades past, seminal runway shows, an artist’s work, the list goes on. Jonathan Anderson, who showed his first collection for LVMH-owned heritage house Loewe in Paris this morning, is no different. But in his debut campaign for the house, which was unveiled yesterday, he actually did something quite fresh: He not only acknowledged his references, he highlighted them. The campaign, which was shot by Steven Meisel with art direction by M&M Paris (who also created Loewe’s revamped logo), is based on a 1997 Meisel editorial, which itself was based on an Alex Katz image. So alongside the new ads, Anderson has incorporated the old snaps. “Instead of hiding the inspiration, we just showed it,” offered Anderson, while snacking on some prawns in Paris Wednesday night. This honesty permeates his Spring ’15 menswear collection, too, which you can click through here. Ahead of his presentation, Anderson spoke with Style.com about the new ads, striving for timelessness, and why he never wants to feel like he’s “made it.”

This is the first big-budget campaign of your career. How did it go?
I keep pinching myself to believe that it’s all happening. It’s been nearly nine months in the making. When I was first thinking of Loewe, I had this 1997 Steven Meisel Vogue Italia editorial in mind, which was based on an Alex Katz picture. It was a group of kids on the beach, and I pitched it to the group. We were trying to work out how to tackle the house’s historical credentials. We got M&M on board to do the logo, and then it was, Well, how do we make imagery for this brand and show it as a cultural reference to fashion, a cultural reference to non-fashion? So we came up with the idea to reuse the 1997 Meisel images, and then we did new imagery with Meisel. We superimposed both, and used the idea of the fashion reference. There was no point in asking Meisel to re-create the image. It was more exciting to show his work now as art.

It feels very meta—this idea of Meisel referencing himself referencing Alex Katz. How does that tie in to your approach to this first collection?
I want Loewe to become a cultural brand. For me, the challenge was how do I take a [heritage] brand and make it modern for right now? We see these images in fashion repeated and copied and repeated and copied, and I thought it was better to just show them. They exist and they’re sharp and modern. I want Loewe to be an honest brand, and I want it to be open to new forms of fashion, new forms of imagery, and new forms of information. So by taking the still life of the bag and shooting it against a white backdrop, it is the bag. We’re not hiding anything—that’s it.

You included some pieces from the Loewe archive in the campaign. As an experimental designer, how did you go about working with Loewe’s archive to create your Spring ’15 imagery?
Well, I had to think, Do I reject the archive or do I embrace the archive? When I looked at the products from past decades, or when I looked at all the logos from years gone by, I loved what these things referred to culturally—what was happening at the time in photography, art, sports, music. All that was reflected in the logos. And when I looked at products, they did the same. In 1846, when trunks were necessary, Loewe had trunks. And then when it came to the seventies and the birth of airlines, you see the bags developed. Loewe has always been reactionary, and I wanted to show a work in progress, because this brand is a work in progress for me. So the campaign images are basically saying, “This is it. This is me. And I want you to come on my journey.”

Loewe

What do you hope these images convey about the collection you’re sending down the runway?
That clothing exists in the world, in many forms and many decades. And ultimately in the end, you never really own it. It becomes part of the zeitgeist. I want people to see this as an edit—a very personal edit of a man’s wardrobe. This is my first major serious job, and it’s a big undertaking, and I want people to see that this is what it is, and we’re going to take it in many different angles, but fundamentally, it will be culturally aware.

The campaign shots you sent over are very accessories-driven, but there’s one striking image of a model wearing a look from the menswear collection, posing against a Saran-wrapped backdrop. Can you tell me about this photograph?
The concept is the idea of the nothingness. It’s the purity of the silhouette and the character within. I wanted to convey the idea that you were unpacking something, and that’s what it was. I love that this image looks like a work in progress. Ultimately, it’s a jersey suit, and in my mind the Loewe man is on the beach, in a jersey suit and espadrilles. He’s on the beach and being cool, even if it’s been boiling hot all day. I like the lightness, the airiness. I love how the flesh looks with the jersey. It has this naive effect. And it’s not anything more than that. I didn’t want to rush into the brand. I want to nurture it.

Did you feel that you had to go a more commercial route for these images than you would with ads for your own label?
I never thought about it as, “We have to be commercial.” I think that’s always a trap. I was just thinking, Does this feel right? The product has to make sense for me and for the consumer. I think this is consumer-led advertising because it’s coming right now—the product will be in the store in the next couple of weeks, so I want to know what the customer is thinking. I need to know what the buyer is thinking. That’s the nerve-racking part, but it’s also the most exciting part.

Loewe

I remember interviewing you when you did your first campaign for J.W. Anderson. It was beautiful, but very DIY. Now you’re working with some of the biggest people in the business. Do you feel this campaign is a “made it” moment?
I don’t know if it’s a “made it” [moment]. I think, as a designer, you never really feel like you’ve “made it.” And if you do, it’s kind of worrying. I’m just so grateful that Steven and M&M wanted to work with me, and I think this campaign is a milestone for Loewe. It encompasses what this brand has fundamentally been about for many years. But we live in the day of social media, where images are devoured and devoured. People who were not involved in the fashion world would not know if Meisel’s image was shot today or twenty years ago. That’s what’s so interesting about Meisel. His work has got that element of timelessness, and that’s something I want in my products—for them to feel timeless.

How are you feeling leading up to the big debut?
It’s a lot of work. We’ve got our new building. We have the advertising campaign. We have the menswear collection, we have the bag collection, everything. And then it goes into stores in a couple weeks. There are a lot of balls in the air, but I have an amazing team of people who have been incredible. I’m very lucky that someone has basically said, “We trust you to do it.” I want to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to seeing that beach scene on a kiosk. I’m looking forward to seeing it in a magazine. I’m looking forward to seeing clothing on people. Loewe has become my brand, but it is Loewe. I’m here as a guest, but we’re rebuilding, and we’re rebuilding a house that has incredible craft and technology and details that I’ve never seen before in my entire life. Every day, I get up a 6 a.m. because I’m excited. And I think that’s what it should be about.

Julien Dossena Talks Paco Rabanne, Atto, and Paris’ Shifting Landscape

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Julien DossenaLVMH Prize finalist. Creative director of Paco Rabanne. Founder of the fledgling label Atto. French designer Julien Dossena is juggling a lot of roles this spring, but he was in New York last week wearing his Paco Rabanne hat. Dossena replaced Manish Arora at Rabanne early last year shortly after leaving Balenciaga, where he worked under Nicolas Ghesquière. By his own account, he has his work cut out for him at Rabanne. Outside of France and fashion circles, the brand is known for little more than perfume and men’s cologne, despite the late designer’s groundbreaking designs of the 1960s. Jane Fonda wouldn’t have been half as convincing as Barbarella without her Rabanne chain mail, and photos of pretty young things in his metal shifts encapsulate the futurism and free love of the era. But the company has floundered in recent years. “The image of the brand before was a bit blurry,” Dossena said. “Now we are taking back the reins.” Over lunch with Style.com, the designer talked Jane Birkin, Françoise Hardy, and why chain mail will always be essential.

How did Paco Rabanne sales go for Fall?We got opinion-leader kind of shops: Corso Como, Maria Luisa, The Webster, Blake, Just One Eye, Dover Street Market in New York and London. It’s a good start. And Barneys for the bags.

Did any piece in particular connect with buyers?We really wanted to emphasize a daywear wardrobe, but—there’s always a but—the stores need a bit of chain mail on the rack. People love it, they buy it. The challenge is to figure out how we can integrate chain mail into a daywear wardrobe.

As you say, the vision of the brand was blurry before. How do you intend to clear it up?
If women have only one Paco Rabanne dress in their closets, the brand isn’t going to develop. So we want to move away from the super-embroidered dresses that were the base of Rabanne before. We want to make it a classic brand for a younger customer. This season, we got the stores we need to deliver that commercial message. Now we’re working on our first pre-collection. We’re going to open our first shop in about a year and a half. Those are the first steps to having a strong brand.

Where will the shop be?
In Paris. Paco Rabanne is a classic from the sixties like Courrèges or Cardin. It can compete now with Balmain, Carven, those kinds of names. Paco Rabanne can be one of them. In France, Paco Rabanne is really deep in the culture. People love the name in France. I don’t know about America.

People who know fashion here know Jane Birkin and Françoise Hardy in the dresses—those cool metal dresses.
That’s what we want to bring back, that coolness that we love from those images. The question is how to translate those images into new product. If there’s a main word that we’re trying to do, it’s effortless.

To be a successful revival brand these days, you can’t just be about the past, right?
It has to be a balance of not losing the signature, but not being impressed by it, either—not being controlled by it. In five, six, seven years, Paco could become a lifestyle brand. Like if you travel, what kind of clothes do you want to wear? If you go to the countryside on the weekend, what do you want to take? I’m super-interested in that aspect and bringing that together with the visual futuristic signature of Paco Rabanne. It’s a good challenge. The good thing, I hope, is that we cleaned the image of the brand quite fast. And now we can move forward.

Paco Rabanne

No one was paying much attention to the label, but very quickly you seem to have caught people’s attention.
I hope. The name deserves it.

Do you think launching your own brand, Atto, at the same time as you signed on at Paco Rabanne has been helpful?
Yes. You learn so much on your own. When you launch your own brand, you have to be super-logical. Basically, it’s either you can do that or you can’t. That’s all. It teaches you not to be afraid to say, “OK, we can’t make a show? Don’t make a show.” But also to find the power in not making a show by really focusing on your products.

That’s what I wanted to do after I left Balenciaga. At Balenciaga I was working on the shows, and when you design clothes for a show it’s totally different than when you design for a customer. Paco Rabanne has taught me that a good basic with a little something more can be super-interesting. Each look has to go on a woman, has to be relevant.

But is it hard to manage two brands?
I just started wondering about that now. It happened randomly that I started Atto and Paco at the same time. I launched Atto in December [2012] just after Balenciaga. Then Paco called me for freelance in mid-January. Now that we’re adding pre-collection in Paco, I wonder what is the best way to keep the balance. At the end, the signature is me. Of course I have the Paco name to hold on to, but in the end, it’s what I think is good.

How is the Paco girl different from the Atto girl?
She’s different, but she’s still my girl. Maybe at Paco she’s more sensual, she’s more rich. At Atto, her look is more sharp, more clean.

Are you going to stick to showing Atto by appointment only during the pre-collections?
Yes, I don’t want it to go too fast or too big. I really want to take my time and enjoy it. To not put pressure on me or the collection. What I’d love to do is co-branding, or collaborations with people who have a specific technique or savoir faire, like Atto Mackintosh, Atto and Charvet shirts. That’s a dream. I love the Comme des Garçons model—you know the way they do those jackets with Barbour. I love that. They keep the essence of Barbour, but they add all their craziness and twists to it.

I’m almost afraid to do a show for Atto because I worry that I will lose the aim of Atto. Doing a show totally transforms your vision of your clothes. It makes you think about the casting, all these kinds of things. When I design Atto now, I say, “OK, is the girl going to be comfortable in that dress? What can she mix it with?” I’m afraid to lose that mix-and-match, modular feeling of Atto.

What about the LVMH award? You’re one of the twelve finalists, for Atto. Congratulations.
I was super-honored and super-happy. You know, in France, there is not much support for young designers and young brands. It’s really hopeful when you see that a big group like LVMH is looking at what young designers are doing. It’s a good thing. It means you are not playing anymore. It’s serious. If Atto doesn’t win, we already won, just to be part of the designer group. It’s quite an eclectic group of finalists. And I’m so happy it’s going on in Paris, you know, finally.

There is something moving. My friends and I are super-happy that J.W. Anderson is coming to Loewe, that Nicolas Ghesquière is coming to Vuitton. You can feel a good energy now in Paris.

Photo: Patrick Demarchelier; InDigital Images 

In With The New!

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NYE sign off

2013 had it all—designer switch-ups, mega companies investing in exciting young brands, epic runway moments, unforgettable ad campaigns, pop star pandemonium, and entertaining celebrity snippets galore. We’re sad to see you go, 2013, but as we raise our glasses to the year ahead, which will see Nicolas Ghesquière’s debut collection for Louis Vuitton, Jonathan Anderson’s first go at Loewe, Anthony Vaccarello’s capsule for Versus Versace, and beyond, we can’t help but look forward to what’s to come. We’ll be taking tomorrow off to ring in the new, but check back on Thursday morning to catch the first fashion news of 2014.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo