Dutch couturier Josephus Thimister died at age 57. Thimister, known for his work at Balenciaga suffered from depression for many years. His name was often linked to “The New Guard”, together with creatives Nicolas Ghesquière (currently at Louis Vuitton), Hedi Slimane, Viktor & Rolf, and Junya Watanabe.
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Earlier today, we received the sad news that Dutch couturier Josephus Thimister has passed away. After suffering from depression for years, the life of Balenciaga’s former creative director has come to an end.
Thimister was born in Maastricht, The Netherlands. While following education in Belgium and England, he was one of the most prestiguous students of Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He got noticed very soon after his graduation. When he met late Karl Lagerfeld at one of his Chanel shows, Lagerfeld told him he was simply too talented to be his assistant. Nonetheless, Thimister worked for Lagerfeld’s eponymous label briefly.
Work for Balenciaga
Soon after his debut at Karl Lagerfeld, Thimister started at Balenciaga in 1992. He debuted with a fascinating collection solely in black and white, while focussing on Cristóbal Balenciaga’s siganture dramatic forms and shapes.
Barneys was one of the first to support the new designer and it marked the start of the Balenciaga’s rebirth. After 10 collections, Josephus Thimister thought it was enough and soon after Nicolas Ghesquière succeeded him.
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Courtesy by @un_romantico_a_firenze • • • • • It's a sad moment today: Josephus Thimister dies at age 57. I want to pay homage to him with two editorials from his late 90s collections- "The New Rich: Vapor-wear" Irving Penn photographed Maggie Rizer in a Spring Summer 1999 Thimister Haute Couture evening dress. @josephus_thimister @fkachristianlacroix @ralphrucci @bertrandguyon @maggierizer #thimister #hautecouture #ss1999 #thenewrich #90sfashion #irvingpenn
Three months later, Josephus Thimister celebrated his debut collection for his eponymous brand. After working day and night together with his team, January 1996 was his moment of shine. He showed his collection at Paris Couture Week and became an instant hit. What else would you expect from a beloved designer by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture?
While there wasn’t money at the start of the label – his sisters financially supported Thimister and Naomi Campbell walked his show for free – he continued to believe in his label. Amongst others, Inès de la Fressange, Deeda Blair and Anne Bass were part of his famous fanbase.
Later, his ready-to-wear collection followed. With this collection, Thimister “radically reimagined the very meaning of luxury”. In 2010, Thimister returned to haute couture, with a collection named “1915: Bloodshed and Opulence”. It featured military influences together with canvas tents, alternated by luxurious and haute couture-worthy materials.
In his last years, he passed on his extensive knowledge of fashion to students of La Cambre in Brussels and at the Institut Français de la Mode. May he rest in peace.
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(Bon voyage Amour…) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My heart bleeds again. The pain is physical and totally overpowering. Writing about him might help the realization process a bit. #Thimister ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Josephus was one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met in the late Eighties-early Nineties, when we were barely in our early twenties, on one of our first jobs. We were in charge of creating and decorating two “Maison Française” pavilions for a “Maison & Objet” trade show. Josephus was assigned a “Vieille France” theme, and I was put in charge of the “Asian” pavilion. Working side-by-side, we immediately clicked, I think it took us barely 10 minutes before we were at each other’s throats, arguing & fighting, but we ended the day, and that evening, as brothers in arms. We were so young, so full of hope & big dreams. The day I met Josephus, I felt jubilant. I had met an alter ego in ambition, depravity and wickedness! Our friendship lasted for 30 years! Josephus had the absolute sharpest mind, the aristocratic beauty of a devil and the finest style I have ever seen on any man. Success came. For five and a half years, I was there at every single one of his shows for Balenciaga. Especially the infamous “Bader-Meinhof” last one! If you were lucky enough to attend, you obviously remember this hot controversial mess. The band Josephus selected —Add N to (X)— played so loudly that part of the audience around us got up and left. The house of Balenciaga had absolutely zero clue how blessed they were back then to have such a genius at its helm, and shamefully let him go…