The news became public on July 18th that the Rochas atelier in Paris is finished. At the helm was Olivier Theyskens, a 29-year-old designer that inspires both longing and jealousy among his community. My intention in writing this commentary is to augment the article by Lynn Herschberg entitled, “Is There a Place for Olivier Theyskens?” in the New York Times Magazine.
It is difficult to pinpoint why news of the closure affected me so much. Perhaps it is because Mr. Theyskens is my age and represents uncompromising ideals that I like to think reflect my own. These ideals encase the creative vision he intended for the reawakening of Rochas; an incredible responsibility he shouldered with grace. Then there is the matter of his endearing persona seemingly resurrected from the past: the broody, androgynous youth so reminiscent of a 19th century poet. (It is a presence, incidentally, which tends to confuse models – they don’t know whether to cuddle him maternally or have a crush on him.) Perhaps most of the disturbance is due to confusion. Confusion shared by Ms. Herschberg and no doubt many others in the fashion community. How can such rare talent be reduced to a bottom line? Surely this event is symbolic of a greater issue at hand: megabranding and its appeal to the lowest common denominator. This is the beast to which most fashion designers today bow to. If they do, they float and if they don’t, the beast swallows them whole. As misanthropic as I have become as a result of this reality as well as the reality of current events around the world, I maintain hope. I refuse to believe Olivier Theyskens is an anachronism.
image: Olivier Theyskens backstage at the Rochas a/w 2005 show www.style.com