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August 22 2014

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49 posts tagged "Olivier Theyskens"

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

No More Theory for Theyskens

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The Top of The Standard Hosts The Unofficial CFDA Awards After PartyAfter four years at the helm of Theory, artistic director Olivier Theyskens is out. The Belgian-born designer, who was tapped by the contemporary megabrand’s CEO Andrew Rosen in 2010 and debuted his first Theyskens’ Theory collection for Fall 2011, will show his final designs for the brand for Pre-Spring 2015. While editors fell hard for his perfect flared pants and signature slim blazers, his namesake Theory line was discontinued when it didn’t sell well in stores. This past February, he showed under the main label.

“It has been an amazing opportunity to work with Andrew and to benefit from his knowledge in this dynamic segment of fashion,” Theyskens told WWD. The designer, who served as artistic director for Nina Ricci and creative director at Rochas (and famously first rose to fame when Madonna wore his dress to the Oscars back in the nineties), is reportedly set to work on new design projects. The details on his new endeavors have yet to be revealed.

Photo: Neil Rasmus / BFAnyc.com

Theory Goes Digital With Stella Tennant

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Stella Tennant for Theory
Stella Tennant for Theory

Theory has tapped the legendary Stella Tennant for its serene (and first-ever) digital campaign. Debuting exclusively here on Style.com, the Lachlan Bailey-lensed campaign includes a collection of ten-second videos (below) featuring Tennant as well as male model Clement Chabernaud. Dressed in Theory’s signature, streamlined Spring ’14 wares—like a white silk blouse and tailored blazer—Tennant glows in the black-and-white clips. “Stella is a perfect fit for Theory, as she is an icon of modernity,” Theory designer Olivier Theyskens, who led the creative direction for the ads, told Style.com. The campaign was shot here in New York and coincides with the brand’s recent shift from Theyskens’ Theory to simply Theory, a decision that was made in an attempt to unify the brand. Theory’s new outdoor and digital campaigns will launch in March, and behind-the-scenes content can be found later today on theory.com.

Celebrities Are House-proud, Too

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BCD cover“I am an interiors geek—I have been slightly obsessed with homes since childhood, and that’s why this project just came naturally to me,” said creative director and now author Rob Meyers on the eve of his book launch. The tome in question is Behind Closed Doors, which catalogs images of twenty-five creative people’s homes, with a twist: They were all taken by the creatives themselves.

Olivier Theyskens, Nicola Formichetti, Courtney Love, Marc Quinn, and Gary Card are among those who participated in Meyers’ first book, which was five years in the making. “I worked with all these crazy talented people and I thought, Hey, I wonder what their homes look like,” said Meyers, whose résumé includes stints with Arena Homme+, POP, Wallpaper*, World of Interiors, and Nylon. “I gave them all disposable cameras and asked them to take pictures of their fave bits in their homes,” said the author of his subjects. “And amazingly, they came through. The cameras came back fully loaded.”

Jeremy Scott FINAL
courtney love

Jeremy Scott’s incredible eighties post-Memphis furniture pieces (above, top) and surreal Ronald McDonald collection; Martha Stewart’s bank of fridges, jars of spatulas, and bowls of eggs; and Courtney Love’s assortment of wedding cake figurines (above, bottom), which includes a pic of her own wedding topper with Kurt Cobain, are just a few of the images included in Meyers’ book. But he insists that this is not what you think: “It’s not like these people have been papped or violated in any way. These pictures are not at all intrusive because [the participants] took the pictures of their homes themselves, and showed as much or as little as they wanted. This comes from their hearts.”

Priced at $29.95, Behind Closed Doors will be available from Rizzoli in March 2014.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Bar Naná to Open With a Bang

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Bar Nana's Olivier Theyskens Uniforms

In New York, a promising nightlife venue or two is always opening during fashion week. As buzz building goes, it’s sort of a no-brainer by now. But designers aren’t just party guests at Bar Naná: The server and hostess uniforms have been designed by Olivier Theyskens (left), the bartender looks by Theory. And when Prabal Gurung inaugurates the space—which was designed by architect Jeffrey White—on Saturday with his post-show bash, he’ll be pumping his brand-new fragrance in through the vents.

Both designers are friends of Kyle Hotchkiss Carone, a 26-year-old nightlife whiz kid and understudy of sorts to Manhattan hospitality veteran David Rabin. They teamed up for nearby Cole’s—which opened in mid-January, in time for last fashion week—and for their latest venture have partnered with Jeffrey Jah and too many other names to list here.

At 2,300 square feet, Naná bears a passing resemblance to the original Double Seven, one of Rabin’s more storied clubs. (Rabin is also behind Jimmy, which is hosting this season’s Proenza Schouler after-party.) Yesterday, two days before go time, it was still noisy with circular saws and power drills. The tufted leather banquettes hadn’t yet been installed, but at least they were there. “Seeing furniture makes me feel much better,” Carone said.

Nana rendering

He was preparing to hang the art, forty or so black-and-white illustrations culled from various editions of Nana, Émile Zola’s canonical tale of a fetching Parisian prostitute who rises to the rank of grand cocotte. (She then meets a dreadful end, but never mind that.) Accordingly, the design has accents of Second Empire—and yet the airy vibe of a party den in, say, Punta del Este. French- and Spanish-language erotica will line one wall. Those hadn’t been installed yet either.

More bar than club, with Latin-inspired tapas on the menu and bottle service available but not really advertised, the venue is a very of-the-moment hybrid—”nightlife for grown-ups,” as Rabin put it. We’ll see if that description holds true over the next few days, which also includes after-parties for Public School on Sunday and Theyksens on Monday.

Photo: Olivier Theyskens; Rendering by Bar Naná architect/designer Jeffrey White