The drama factor was as high as the stiltlike shoes as Olivier Theyskens staged his fantastical fall Nina Ricci collection, which would turn out to be his swan song. Less than a week later, Ricci announced the end of its collaboration with the Belgian wunderkind, citing a desire to “reorientate its development strategy.” At press time, Ricci had yet to offi cially name his successor: Peter Copping, a top design deputy to Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. Nor had Theyskens broken his silence on the end of his affair with the French house, preserving the air of mystery and poetry left by his surreal, darkly romantic farewell collection.

A psychedelic-Goth undercurrent pulsed through the collection, reminding the audience of the raw talent that catapulted Theyskens to fame at age 21, when Madonna wore his black satin hook-and-eye gown to the Oscars in 1998. While acknowledging weak sell-through of Theyskens’ designs for Ricci, retailers said they would welcome a return of his signature collection, which the designer put on hold when he joined Rochas in 2003. Sources said Theyskens recently bought back the rights to his trademark, suggesting that just might be the gritty path he will follow.

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