Don’t let the slight build and gentle manner fool you. Beneath his delicate exterior, Olivier Theyskens is one intrepid voyager. It’s almost certain that the Nina Ricci collection he showed Thursday was his last for the house. And whether he conceived it as a creative kiss-off to the powers that be at Puig or as an audition for his next job, the clothes were a fantastical journey through fashion of the most spectacular sort. Which is to say that Theyskens didn’t succumb to the constant pressure to conform and commercialize, though there were plenty of real clothes in this highly imaginative mix.
There’s no telling how this collection will figure into what lies ahead, but Theyskens was clearly considering the future, a theme that played on from the first look, a strong-shouldered black top paired with filmy, pajamalike silk pants. Rather than take the obvious angular and aggressive approach, he imagined a softer, darkly romantic tomorrow, done in brooding black, purple and olive green shot with the occasional bright and lots of shine. Among the beautiful, wearable options for day were skinny pants and blazers, their edge sometimes tempered by a topping of cozy knits. Shoulders, while dominant, were rendered in round, padded curves, as in those on the stellar stream of jackets, such as leathers with tails and a thick, double-breasted tweed slashed with strokes of glitter. Such sparkle was one of the collection’s most effective touches, adding a glam finish to a classic daytime jumper and dazzling on the sleeves of sheer tulle under layers, all the while alluding to a psychedelic-Goth undercurrent that flourished for evening.
That elaborate, high-drama affair began and ended with black, first a sheer, stripped-down corset dress, and, finally, a lavishly sculpted gown. In between came a parade of stunners: a mesmerizing beaded top and iridescent skirt combo; an artfully painted style; a cascade of ruffles done in brazen red, which seemed to say, See what I can do? And if those weren’t enough of a bold statement, the footwear sure was: giant, many in the audience thought ridiculous, platform shoes and booties, in black, gold and glittering fuchsia, most with a blank space where the heel should be. They weren’t merely gravity-defying, but utterly defiant, the way Theyskens likes things.