“When the economy changes, it’s not like you want to start eating bad-tasting chocolate,” Olivier Theyskens said after showing his pre-fall collection for Nina Ricci in New York on Monday morning. “You have to stay true to what you’re doing, and the house of Nina is about luxury.”
Indeed, Theyskens, who, in recent months, has been the subject of rumors that his two-year stint as artistic director at Nina Ricci is in jeopardy, sent forth a glamorous lineup of rich leather jackets, diaphanous silk dresses and slouchy pantsuits.
According to the designer, in beginning to create the line, he asked himself, “If I was a girl, what would I want? What would I need?” Known for his exquisite prints, Theyskens used a Seventies-style graphic motif in vibrant colors played up against neutrals. Dresses were short; pants, skinny, and outerwear, sporty.
And, although his collections routinely have received critical praise, Theyskens has weathered reports that sales have been flat for the label, which is sold in 50 U.S. doors and 200 worldwide. When asked whether such reports — and the economy in general — have influenced his creative approach, Theyskens, dressed casually in a hot pink shirt and dark gray sweater, offered a polite but emphatic no.
“I think it’s important to study the market and to feel you are right with it,” he explained. “But if I felt we had to start doing simple clothes, I’d be doing them.” As for his job security, Theyskens smiled and said, “I am totally committed to Nina Ricci. None of us really know from where such rumors come up, but we are feeling very confident that things are going in the right place.”
His confidence may be based in part on the introduction of an expanded accessories line, particularly handbags. Theyskens designed four styles for spring: a hobo, shoulder bag, tote and clutch, in skins from alligator to calf to pony. “I want this one,” he said, showing off a boxy alligator tote with leather ribbon detailing (about $25,000, though most of the bags run in the $1,800 to $2,500 range).
Shoes, too, played a major role in the pre-fall fare, as in platform pumps and booties (one unexpected flourish: a clear plastic heel fashioned into a dove). Despite the fact that he’s not deviating from his perfectionist clothing designs, Theyskens admitted that, when it came to creating a bag collection, he wanted to keep things “discreet.”
“We’ve had a propensity toward so much flash the last few years,” he said, “and I wanted to make something classic with simple hardware.” Translation? In lieu of fancy snaps and buckles, many of the bags, in black, steely gray and eggplant, feature a brass rope chain, some woven with leather, and a leather ribbon fluttering from the side. “I wanted to have a ribbon that you could hold in your hand and play with,” explained Theyskens. He also has created a line of sunglasses and eyewear, which he said would be in stores by June.
However, while accessories are often financial juggernauts for apparel companies, Mario Grauso, president of Puig Beauty & Fashion Group, which owns Nina Ricci, was quick to downplay high expectations for the collection. “I think that, for any fashion house at this moment in time, you’re trying to make the best of a bad situation,” he said. “I personally believe that the accessories market is kind of overloaded, so I don’t think that the new guy coming in is suddenly going to have a huge business. We’re going to start building what I hope will be a big business. But I also think, in a tough economy, girls are going to make themselves feel better with a smaller purchase, whether it’s eyewear or a pair of shoes.”
And, while Grauso — who noted he is “trying to keep the prices down as much as we can; now’s not the time for $25,000 dresses” — would not disclose sales volume for the label, he remains solidly behind his 31-year-old employee, whom he’s had his eye on since Theyskens’ days at Rochas. “I feel like, as soon as I hire somebody, there’s rumors about them leaving,” Grauso said. Theyskens’ contract is up in October, and Grauso added: “To be honest, Olivier and I haven’t started to renegotiate, but right now we’re fine. I can’t help but be pleased. He’s done a great job.”
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
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