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Olivier Theyskens remains one of fashion’s most enigmatic characters. Since arriving on the scene in 1998, swathed in an air of dark mystery, he has produced nine collections to date – most recently for the prestigious French house Rochas – and attracted high profile fans, including Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Melissa Auf der Maur.

Born in Brussels in 1977, Theyskens dropped out of the city’s Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre in 1997 before presenting his debut collection, ‘Gloomy Trips’, later that year. Living in a 19th-century brothel and collecting stuffed animal heads at the time, his decidedly Gothic reputation was established from the start; the first collection included clothes embroidered with human hair and voluminous Victorian governess-style dresses (including one worn by Madonna in her ‘Frozen’ video).

The following few seasons saw the Belgian adding a lighter, more romantic tone to his vision and also taking a creative break to restructure his studio. After much speculation over his future (the designer famously turned down the role of creative director at Givenchy), Theyskens was appointed artistic director of Rochas and, in March 3003, presented his first show for the esteemed house. Playing on the unique themes and signature styles of Marcel Rochas – chantilly lace, the colour pink, an emphasis on tailoring and evening gowns – the collection also pursued his own attention to volume. With a further three collections to date, Theyskens continues to respectfully move the house forward.

Whilst remaining true to Maison Rochas’ original couture spirit, the 27-year-old is nonetheless attempting to develop new representations of femininity and elegance. In March 2004, Theyskens was also appointed artistic director of Rochas Fragrances. His work has also been exhibited in various international exhibitions, including ‘Belgian Fashion Designers’ at the Fashion Institute of Technology museum in New York.

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