Olivier Theyskens is making a comeback. The Belgian designer, who launched his own label in the late 1990’s before he landed at Nina Ricci and Rochas and put the label on hiatus, has been the topic of much industry speculation over the past several years, particularly given the many high profile creative director position openings in recent years. After being tapped to serve as artistic director of Theory in 2010, he ultimately left the house in June 2014 “to pursue other design projects.” Ever since, he has been quietly working on relaunching his eponymous brand - which made its debut in September 2016 - bringing on LVMH veteran Maximiliano Nicolelli as chief executive.
The label, which announced in July 2016 that it was slated for its second coming during the Spring/Summer 2017 Paris Fashion Week shows, is begining with spring and fall collections only, shown on the traditional calendar. Shying from the press ploys that most brands have come to rely on, Theyskens and Nicolelli want to do things differently. “Really, the product is at the centre of the scene,” Nicolelli said.
“Yes, there are certain things that need to be adjusted. But each brand needs to find its own voice: the best way to portray the product and the best way to be out in the market. I’m very cautious of brands following each other. Personally, I think that’s a mistake, putting certain brands out of their core businesses.”
As for the retail strategy, Nicolelli said the duo plans to start slowly and exclusively, with limited partners and points of sale. “I would define it as targeted,” he told BoF.
“I’ve evolved and changed, but my core, my identity, somehow has not changed. I’m still the same material,” Theyskens said recently. “It’s good for me to think back to what I personally want to do. When I was working for other brands, I was pushing a lot of stuff to the side that I would have done for [my own line].”
The industry has been watching Theyskens quite closely for the past several years. There was talk for some time that he would revive his signature label, which he put on hiatus when he joined Rochas in 2003. He was reportedly considered for a job as the creative head at Oscar de la Renta in 2014, a role that ultimately went to Peter Copping. In 2014, sources revealed that Theyskens had been taking meetings in Milan, suggesting he was headed to an Italian design house.
Speaking about Theyskens’ future on the heels of his departure from Theory, Anne Slowey, Elle’s longtime (and now former) fashion features director, spoke highly of him. She noted: “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.” It seems now just might be that time.