In 1998, Olivier Theyskens emerged as a prodigy when, having yet to graduate from The École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de La Cambre, he launched his own ready-to-wear label that had Madonna wearing one of his pieces to the Oscars. Spending two decades in creative and artistic director roles at Rochas, Nina Ricci and Theory, he landed at Azzaro last year, where he designs women’s and men’s couture and ready-to-wear in Paris.
How do you define the future?
It’s a perspective you project yourself into — and this projection participates in triggering inspiration and creativity, while carrying positivity or fear, beliefs or doubts.
Can you be a designer without thinking about the future?
Yes, as a designer you can project yourself into the past and still generate novelty. Design can intentionally be a projection of the future while being rooted in references from the past. I think it’s a human thing to seek out total newness; while at the same time, relive experiences like in tales, movies and even through design.
What does the future’s aesthetic look like, to you?
Our future is deeply problematic and will inevitably keep facing extreme crises at the planet’s scale. This means creativity will be very important as an expression, eventually becoming a part of global solutions. We need to evolve, adapt and bring our best. Aesthetically, I hope propositions will be multiple showcasing strong visions and alternative ideas.
How did 2020 change your outlook for the future?
On many levels, it has consolidated my views on global crisis and the utmost importance to shift era. ,
Why is the future such an important element of fashion?
Because fashion shows new creative propositions that excite and make sense when aligned with a vision of the near future — whether conservative or alternative. Fashion can also be simply pleasant and light, soothing.
How do you imagine fashion changing in ten years?
There will be new materials manufactured with new processes and an evolution of our body perception and sensitivity.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Anything is possible.
What is one thing we can start doing now that could positively impact our future?
Stop wasting so much; it’s disgusting.
What concerns you about the future?
The profound human nature towards greed, lack of responsibility, irreversible destruction, manipulation.
What excites you about the future?
Actions we’ll have to take to protect nature — the only home planet — and our place among it.
Your wish for the future?
That values of respect, tolerance and care transcends ourselves to embrace the bigger picture.
What about fashion will remain constant: what is permanent across past, present, and future?
The emotions it can generate.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.