Former Balenciaga artistic director Thimister dies aged 57

PARIS: Dutch fashion designer Josephus Thimister, a former artistic director at Balenciaga, has died at the age of 57, the French fashion federation said on Wednesday.

“It is with sadness that the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has learned of the passing away of Josephus Thimister, whose avant-garde style, elegance and skills in cutting have, for many years, contributed to the creative momentum in Paris,” the body said in a statement.

Thimister worked for Balenciaga´s luxury ready-to-wear lines from 1991 to 1997 before setting up his own house. In 2005, he became head designer at French luxury footwear label Charles Jourdan.

Born in Maastricht in 1962, he studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp before working under Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Patou at the House of Patou in Paris.

In 2010, having closed down his own house due to lack of investment, he was persuaded to return to Paris couture by federation chief Didier Grumbach.

The ensuing collection called “Bloodshed and Opulence” featuring Cossack jackets splattered with fake blood and trousers scorched with brown paint to resemble burns was described by one critic as “stark, bleak and disturbing”.

“I am not a political person but fashion has a voice and it is time to express my views,” Thimister, who was of Russian-Dutch extraction, told an interviewer at the time.

“We are still feeling the aftershock of the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of communism, when Europe fell apart,” he said.

“We have never recovered. We have lost our soul and our spirit.”

According to France´s Fashion Dictionary, Thimister made his mark at Balenciaga “through his minimalist style and great skills in cutting in modernising the house´s image”.

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