photo: scan

Olivier Theyskens autumn—winter 1998—99 in High Fashion, 1998.

In the summer of 1997, while still a third-year student at the Brussels Academy of La Cambre, Olivier Theyskens was singled out as the ‘fashion favourite’ by a leading Paris press agent. A few months later he abandoned the course and presented his first collection during the Paris prêt-à-porter week. The year was 1998. It immediately made him the first ex-student of La Cambre and the youngest designer with a show in Paris.
Two ‘firsts’!

However, the first collection of womenswear was never sold. Not because it didn’t appeal to the public, or because it was deemed unwearable, but merely because the young designer didn’t want it. For him the show was a test case, a trial run as it were, aimed at establishing his reputation by demonstrating what he was capable of doing: everything.

It testified to his passion to pursue this profession. The collection was highly eclectic, ranging from plastic catsuits decorated with a depiction of the female circulatory system, to sumptuous ball gowns made from curtain material, trouser suits from kitchen towels or lace. You name it… the staging of this show was rather macabre. In a brightly lit, empty mansion house, pale models paraded disdainfully past the public, the overall effect being dramatically humorous.

Olivier Theyskens: Each bit of skin has an impact. Just sketching a neckline in a certain way is enough to give another sensation, another impression. The functional parts of our body are the hands and the head, that’s what most often tends to be exposed; and when you expose another part, you show something that isn’t essential for the function. You’re bang in the middle of the whole question of taboos, and so on. It’s always difficult to expose a mouth when you have just eaten something, for example. My desire is above all to make girls beautiful. To make them sexy is not my aim.
Francine Pairon: The relation to prohibitions … you can’t get around it … The same hold for the register of seduction, sex… The clothed or naked body, covered/uncovered, OK … but the soul? The Japanese have a way of clothing bodies so as to nourish the soul.

Catwalk show by Maison Martin Margiela at the opening of the exhibition Fashion & Art 1960—1990, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, 1995.

The Van Heckes’ fashion shows were something special. They organized them in their own salons, at several galas, and even during the intermissions of blues concerts. Or at the gallery le Centaure, where during the opening night of a Kees van Dongen exhibition in 1927, they had their models parade among the invitees. More than sixty years later, in 1995, Maison Martin Margiela would do the same on the opening night of Fashion & Art in the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

Florence Müller: The performance/installation that Martin Margiela created at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels in 1995, one of the first exhibitions devoted to art and fashion, was very impressive. With a band of masked, non-professional models parading on a carpet of confetti throughout the opening evening, which was filmed and displayed in the exhibition space afterward as a “trace” of the event, he produced a spectacular effect with a minimum of financial outlay.


In 1817, John Keats, 22 years old and starting to come into his poetic own, fell deeply in love with the poetics of Shakespeare and purchased several volumes of the bard’s writings. For the remaining three years of his life, Keats would spend hours reading, re-reading, and writing all over his copies of Shakespeare.

Pictured in order are:

-Annotations in The Tempest, his most heavily annotated play. Keats’ annotations placed an emphasis on important moments of character development and the emotionally descriptive poetics that come with those. The slightly darker area on the middle of the far right is his thumb marks

-Annotations in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his second most annotated play. These annotations focused particularly on Shakespeare’s descriptions of nature and sensuality

-A decided opinion on Johnson’s criticism of As You Like It, featuring a quote from the play in Keats’s handwriting  /  A draft of ‘On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again,’ written on the end page after Hamlet, next to the opening page of King Lear

-Draft of ‘Bright Star,’ written on the blank page next to the poem ‘A Lover’s Companion’