Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nina Ricci

which really means Olivier Theyskens. Theyskens dressed Madonna in a full-length ball gown made of yellow leather for some event, and then a black leather gown for the Oscars, and while she didn't exactly get lots of praise for the outfits, they did put him on the map. Then (as I understand it) he got hired to revitalize the old French label Rochas, which had been piddling along (as many of them do) on scarves and fragrances. He was a huge hit with fashion editors, and the dresses were wonderful; high-necked, long sleeved, fitted to a T gowns in greens and eggplants. The only thing is, they cost a fortune and the society ladies who buy such things don't want to look like skinny Victorian governesses, so his sales were not stellar. He eventually started making some wearable clothes (pants, even!) but his bosses at Proctor and Gamble (who own Rochas, such is the weirdness of the fashion world) pulled the plug and went back to concentrating on the lucrative perfume business. Theyskens is the special pet of Anna Wintour (Ed in C of American Vogue) so although there was a general wail along the lines of "Olivier is a genius his corporate masters could never understand oh where will he go oh what will he do!" he himself never manifested (publicly, anyway) much worry. As it turns out, he was picked to helm another old house in need of a boost: Nina Ricci (you know it because it makes "L'Air du Temps," a perfume sold in drug stores in a bottle with a bird on it and advertised on TV relentlessly in the seventies).

Now, that in itself is interesting because at the time that he must have been negotiating to take it over Nina Ricci had a young, hip designer in charge: Lars Nilsson. Nilsson is an incredibly talented Swede, who makes gorgeous clothes, and who cannot seem to keep a job to save his life. He was hired to take over Bill Blass, made wonderful things, was fired. Hired by Nina Ricci, made wonderful things, fired. Later he went to Gianfranco Ferre, a really plum job, and was fired before he even showed his first collection. What is going on there? I have no idea. But, as I say, out he went, and in went Olivier Theyskens, and there Olivier remains. And the things he is doing there! He just showed a collection made almost entirely of dresses with hemlines raised in front and trailing in back. For a little variety he threw in some satin short-shorts and pants with fins, but basically, if you want to wear Theyskens it's flamenco dresses for you. Can this possibly end well?

Not that I'm complaining, because let me tell you, the dresses are breathtaking. Given that I don't give a hoot about Nina Ricci's bottom line I say, bring on season after season of dresses this fantastic. (For the sake of keeping things fun we're just going to ignore the size of the model's thigh. 'Kay?)

Did I mention that Theyskens is 29?

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