July 20, 2006

the death of a label.


rochas pantsuit, s/s 2006

rochas, the delightful, ethereal, beautiful line designed by olivier theyskens, is being shut down by its owner, proctor and gamble. p&g is not in the fashion game, they are in the fragrances game, and although rochas was steadily increasing in sales, sources say it wasn’t enough to keep p&g from closing shop.

in recent years, many fashion houses have been revived in an attempt to recapture the mood and heritage of a brand. some that immediately come to mind are: callaghan, balenciaga, celine, biba, nina ricci.

rochas was founded in paris by marcel rochas as a couture house in 1924, but existed only as a fragrance after rochas died in 1955 until wella, which made its classic femme scent, brought back a clothing line in 1990 with the designer peter o’brien. theyskens was hired in 2003. no u.s. retailer had carried the rochas collection before theyskens’ arrival; after his debut, it became extremely popular at barneys new york, jeffrey, and neiman marcus among others.

fall/winter 2003

theyskens first burst in the fashion spotlight in 1998 at age 21 when he dressed Madonna in a striking black satin coat with hook-and-eye closures for the oscars, and she named him as her favorite designer. after a flirting with joining givenchy after the departure of alexander mcqueen, he was named designer of rochas in 2003. he immediately established a sophisticated couture look for the house with his debut collection, which featured dramatic “hunchback” gowns and bustier dresses that enveloped the body like a cream puff. rochas became one of the lines responsible for what has become a new refinement in fashion (along with lanvin, balenciaga, marc jacobs, and prada), lifting inspiration from couture, and blending it with a modern point of view. in 2005, he was given the CFDA international award (other winners have included tom ford, miuccia prada and alber elbaz).

but what rochas didn’t have that many of those lines do is the backing from a major company with an interest (and background) in building fashion houses. balenciaga has had huge success with its accessories, and has also developed other lines at lower price points. lanvin has similarly started to build its accessories (you’ve seen lindsay toting around her kansas bag…)

spring 2005 gown

many rumours have started as to where theyskens could end up: replacing phoebe philo at chloe, at de la renta, where he attended the cruise show with anna wintour. but for now, bets are on him reopening his namesake collection, which he put on hold while designing for rochas. only time will tell.