The End of the Affair
By CATHY HORYN
IT’S astonishing when a fashion star becomes a bystander, a shadow.
“Oh, it’s you.”
Startled, this is what you say, all you can think to say, when you encounter a Displaced Fashion Person at a glamorous industry party, your sense of shame manifest in the little jerk of surprise his head makes.
Well, it happens. Fame lasts for no one.
But when the roster of DFP’s includes Tom Ford, Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, Miguel Adrover, Phoebe Philo (late of Chloé) and Olivier Theyskens, who was recently cut loose from the Paris house Rochas by its corporate parent, Procter & Gamble, you have to think that something more than Darwinian theory is at work.
These were — are — great designers. They changed the way we dressed. And I don’t mean load-bearing fashionistas, pillars of Frenchy chic and obscure fads. I mean you. Mr. Theyskens’s extreme shapes for Rochas, however ugly duckling they looked at first, set in motion the trend for dressy fashion, and makers of midprice suits can thank him as well for helping to put the kibosh on casual Fridays. Ms. Philo established Chloé as a stylish baseline, the Chanel of her generation. Mr. Lang gave men a sleek, fashionable uniform that still retained a masculine roughness. And Mr. Ford did more than make sexy fashion: he made fashion a sexy topic.