Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Other Side of the Picture

Mr. Theyskens is a boyish wisp of a man and wears his dark hair very long. He famously dropped out of art school at the age of 20. He was hired a few years later as designer of Rochas, where he dressed Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst and won the International Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his haunting, feminine designs.

Often heralded as one of the greatest designers of his generation, Olivier Theyskens has seen his wispily layered clothes enshrined at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and worn to the Oscars by Madonna. It's hard to fly higher than that in fashion. And he's only 33.

Yet Mr. Theyskens (pronounced TAY-skenz) has had a hard time keeping jobs. At French brands Rochas and Nina Ricci, Mr. Theyskens' collections won rave reviews but failed to sell well enough to satisfy retailers or investors. He became fashion's version of "My So-Called Life"—the TV show that was simultaneously applauded and canceled.

Unemployed for the past year, Mr. Theyskens has collaborated on a book with an old friend, portrait photographer Julien Claessens. Due to be published Feb. 11—the kickoff of New York Fashion Week—by Assouline, the $120 book has an enticing title: "The Other Side of the Picture."


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