Olivier Theyskens and the Seductive Power of Lace

The Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens, has been fascinated by lace since his first collection when he made use of  antique Chantilly lace collected by his grandmother.

After dropping out of art school 1994, his break came when stylist Arianna Philips saw photographs of his works and dressed Madonna in one of his black satin coat-dresses for the 1998 Academy Awards.

Theyskens presented his first full collection in Paris in 1998. The collection was a deconstruction of eighteenth-century style that reworked traditional French fabrics. His spring 1999 collection was featured on the Vogue list of '25 Most Unforgettable Runway Shows of the ‘90s'. By fall 2000, Vogue reported that 'Theyskens has established himself as one of the most powerful creative personalities in fashion'. It was, however, during his time at Rochas in the early 2000s that he revived that house's love of lace, working with French lacemaker, which cemented his passion for this delicate fabric. More recently his own collection features hook-and-eye blouses and lace in numerous looks.  

Chemise en organza de soie et agrafes Olivier Theyskens, printempsété 1999

Last weekend saw the opening of a new exhibition opens at the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais. The city, which sits on France’s northern coastline, is known for producing lace: from abundantly detailed Chantilly to French tulle, and much more besides. The lace produced in the region is of the finest quality, and is used by Chanel, Valentino and Dior (see Selvedge 86, CRÈME DE LA CRÈME The history of Calais Lace)

Robe à tournure en taffetas, franges de passementerie, ruban, boutons en métal, dentelle type application - Vers 1875 Collection Cité Dentelle Mode

On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais has given Theyskens access to the museum’s entire archive, asking him to create a narrative between past and present, between his work and the artefacts in the  collection. The result is a must see summer exhibition in which the designer gives full rein to his love of lace. 

Tailleur en laine à veste baleinée et jupe « à l’envers », bustier en coton. Olivier Theyskens, automne-hiver 2001-2002

Olivier Theyskens: In Praesentia is at the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais until 5 January 2020 


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