Theyskens was barely twenty years old when the experimental tailoring and poetic underpinnings of his debut ready-to-wear collection first caught the fashion world’s eye in the late 90s. In 2002 he left his native Belgium for Paris, where he was appointed creative director at Rochas. Over the course of the four years at the wheel of the French brand, Theyskens’ fresh, innovative work garnered the Star Award from Fashion Group International in 2005 and the title of Best International Designer by the CFDA in 2006.
After Rochas, the wunderkind designer covered the same role at Nina Ricci, where his signature romantic flowing silhouettes and extraordinary talent for drawing made ripples on the global runway. Theyskens’ unique aesthetic was captured in a personal book project, The Other Side of the Picture (Assouline). Published in 2009, the book is an anthology of images that offer an intimate insight into Theyskens’ work throughout the years.
In 2010, Theyskens joined contemporary American fashion brand Theory to create Theyskens’ Theory. That same year he was appointed Artistic Director of the global Theory brand, where he stayed until 2014. 2016 witnessed the re-launch of his namesake self-funded label, a contemporary revisitation of Theyskens’ unique DNA made up of leather, lace and flowing gowns.
Also known for his collaboration with the artist and music communities, he has created costumes for the Chicago based rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, popstar Madonna and for the New York City Ballet, among many others.
After a twenty-year career as one of the most renowned designers in the world – thoroughly documented in the MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp’s retrospective She Walks in Beauty, open until March 2018 – Olivier Theyskens will be at Polimoda to talk about the the role of passion and contradictions in fashion and how important it is for independent designers today to mix business with high-end craftsmanship and creativity.