In the midst of fashion week’s mega brand special effects, museum runway spectaculars and celebrity packed front rows, it’s easy to lose sight of the point of it all — the art and intimacy of a well-made garment.
But Olivier Theyskens has found the love again by thinking small, focusing on textiles and craft in his collection, which he presented on mannequins at the Théatre National de Chaillot on Monday night.
Theyskens’ brought his signature dark romanticism and long, lean silhouette to bias-cut dresses that were gorgeous assemblages of gossamer knit, lace and patchwork scraps washed and heat pressed to create crinkly texture, or dip-dyed to inky effect.
“They are swatches of fabrics I collect, and combine by colors and textures. The orangey ones I find geological, the blue is more aquatic, this is more book oriented,” he said of a dress made with squares of silk and lace. “I love to work with instinct. I can kind of reproduce these, but I like that they will never be exactly the same.”
A collagey patchwork gown with crinkly black bow-tied bustier, layered over a super-cropped cardigan was a standout look, as was a black gossamer knit catsuit with delicate beading incorporated into the stitch. A tuxedo with delicate silk lapels and clutch front, and a fitted cape slit up the back over a corset and trousers, had a softness that’s been largely absent elsewhere in this season’s tailoring conversation.
Altogether, it made for a slightly rough and romantic ’90s vibe, or “undomesticated couture,” as the designer calls it, that feels fresh again, and would be great on the red carpet, actually (Nicole Kidman comes to mind).
“We were all caught up in the system,” Theyskens said of his approach to business now, which is largely made-to-measure. “I see this positively because I’m passionate and in this point in my career, I want to take the time to connect again with making patterns and clothes. There is nothing done in a factory here. Everything is done in Paris with my team. I feel like like life is great like that.”