One designer who could stand to fill one of the still-vacant positions in the midst of the recent rounds of creative director musical chairs is Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens. You may recall that Theyskens, who launched his own label in the late 1990’s before he landed at Nina Ricci and Rochas, was tapped to serve as artistic director of Theory in 2010 and ultimately left the house in June 2014 “to pursue other design projects.” Ever since, the industry has been speculating as to his next move.
Interestingly, while we received confirmation in February 2015 that Lisa Kulson, former women’s design director for Theory, had been named as creative director upon Theyskens’ departure, Theyskens has not found a home. However, his name seems to come up each time a position in vacated, rather unsurprisingly given the honors he has racked up (think: the CFDA International Award, for one) and the critical reception he has received (Vogue called his F/W 2001 collection “undoubtedly one of the strongest, most brilliant of the season”).
There was talk, for instance, that he would revive his signature label, which he put on hiatus when he joined Rochas in 2003. That has yet to happen. 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. Marking yet another option that has yet to come into fruition.
Over the past couple of year, however, we have seen at least creation of Theyskens’ and that came in the form of the chalky ivory Clerici Tessuto silk taffeta satin gown complete with a more-than-ten-foot train that society girl, Nell Diamond, wore for her October 2014 wedding at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes.
Speaking about Theyskens’ future on the heels of his departure from Theory, Anne Slowey, Elle’s 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.” Magali Ginsburg, head of buying & category management for The Corner, said she 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.
Maybe the most interesting take on Theyskens, given the current empty seats in the industry, is what Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus, had to say: “As we all know, he loves couture and does superlative evening pieces.” If Sarah Burton was not the leading name in the race to the vacant Dior creative director position, it sounds as though Theyskens might make a rather apt fit.