PARIS, France — You cannot take the storyteller out of Olivier Theyskens. It's in his blood; in the way he envisions fashion and presents it. Last season the clinical space of a gallery in the Marais offered an ideal backdrop, or a clean slate, for a collection that felt like a re-start.
Actually it was: the darkly romantic Belgian designer, a darling of both press and style mavens, was back. The gothic tingle and the intoxicating languor’s were still there, in cleaner, more streamlined declinations. Now that the new template is set, Theyskens is feeling free to evolve, adding some more theatrics. With this new collection he took a big step forward. There was the spectacular venue, for a start: the wrought-out, sensationally old fashioned and decidedly fanè salons of Le Train Bleu, one of Paris' most traditional restaurants: a gem hidden inside the Gare de Lyon train station.
The peaceful place was totally at odds with the frenzy of arrivals and departures that kept happening just outside the doors. Similarly, Theyskens worked on the idea of contrast, offsetting traditional bourgeois references with something harder, more masculine. Models kept sliding throughout the banquettes in long trenches and brocade mini-dresses, in militaristic tailoring and delicate gowns, while severe black left way to charmingly odd combinations of diverse colors.
The collection had an expanding breath, which shone in the ethereal gowns. Not everything worked: the boxy-shouldered admiral jackets did not fit that well, for instance. All in all, it was Theyskens getting back to what we like him doing, with a fresh slant.