Theyskens for Theory Fall 2011 Review

Theyskens for Theory Fall 2011 RTW

Photos: Imaxtree

Looks from the Theyskens for Theory Fall 2011 collection

SHOW: Olivier Theyskens for Theory (See the full runway collection)

THEME: '90s-tinged daytime drama

HAIR: Odile Gilbert for Kérastase

MAKEUP: James Kaliardos for M.A.C.

OVERALL TAKEAWAY: Theyskens's dark poetess emerges into daylight—wearing the coolest wide-leg pants in town.

Theory made every effort to make today's runway show—the company's first fully public outing with Olivier Theyskens at the helm—as discreet as possible. The time and location of the presentation were kept under wraps, available only to those who received their (hand-delivered) hard invites.

Sound like Rodarte, you say? Almost. In fact, that comparison point was impossible to avoid, especially as we shuffled into a clandestine Chelsea gallery just after noon. The enormous sense of mystery and expectation that hung in the air made it easy to forget that the brand at the center of the furor is, ironically, one based on no-fuss utilitarianism. Of course, you don't hire Theyskens without courting his accompanying drama.

But drama, we soon learned, suits Theory just fine. If Theyskens's light-handed Spring 2011 collection for the brand was his well-received toe-dip into the mainstream, this showing was the Belgian wunderkind's confident, stronger, and yes, darker, evolution.

Naturally, Fall has always flattered Theyskens best. His moody, body-skimming separates, languid lengths, and shapes look coolest layered—especially in shades of ash (or as Cintra Wilson might prefer, “bruise tones”).

The key difference is that Theyskens, innately a nocturnal poet, is now designing for the daytime. Every single look here—even the no-nonsense knee boots, sweetly gothic oil-hued chiffon “gowns,” and slashed maxis—will appear riveting in the unsentimental banality of midday.

Keeping the authenticity of Theory's utilitarian spirit in mind, he turned his admirably rich fabric ideas—velvet, velveteen, painted silks—into invitingly approachable contemporary styles. In other words, his interminably chic muse has left her bat cave and sauntered into the workplace—wearing a cloud-colored trench and the coolest pair of shiny black wide-leg trousers we've ever seen.

Other highlights included experimentation with—wait for it—color. Sure, he dabbled with shock hues at Nina Ricci, but Theyskens will, by default, be associated with an achromatic palette. Today, he made his sparing use of color impactful: a few standout cowl-neck cable knits came in a stunning deep aquamarine, and bloodred velvet made its cameo on select blouses and skinny-leg pants—and always paired with a more earthly neutral.