Knowledge transforms perception. Growing up studying ballet and then performing it professionally transformed the way that I look at dance performances. Previous to that training, I would watch a dance performance and enjoy the music, the costumes, and the movement of the dancers. But once I crossed the line and become part of that world, I could never look at it so naively again. Now, when I go to a performance, I can’t help but analyze the technique of the dancers, the artistry of the choreography, the staging and costumes. And while sometimes a performance is so mesmerizing as to pull me in and make me abandon that knowledge for brief moments, it is never the same. The curtain has been pulled back and I, like Dorothy, can see the Wizard of Oz for what he is.
Similarly, as a fashion designer who spent a good part of my career working in high end companies, that knowledge colors the way I look at fashion. I analyze the cut, the drape, the construction, the price point and the wearability of a garment. Sometimes, like with dance, I can get totally lost in the artistry and fantasy of a piece. More often than not, I can’t.
Which brings me to THEIA. Launched in Fall 2009, THEIA is an evening collection that straddles that fine line of being sexy, glamorous, and finely constructed, while still being wearable and affordable. Creative Director Don O’Neill brings his considerable talent and experience to the label, creating a collection that is stunningly beautiful, garnering the attention of such stars as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. As you examine the collection, it is obvious that Mr. O’Neill understands a woman’s body and designs to make each woman look and feel like a star.
While we would all love to be Blair Waldorf and dash over to Madison Avenue whenever we felt like it to purchase gorgeous creations with no concern for price or the longevity of the garment, the reality is that few have that option. However, dressing glamorously should and can still be an option for the less elite and THEIA answers that need.
Named for THEIA, the Greek Goddess of light who was mother to the sun, moon and the dawn, the line is designed to “bring out every woman’s inner goddess”. Under Mr. O’Neill’s tutelage, the line is living up to that goal. Utilizing luxurious silks, European brocades, laces, prints, intricate embroidery and beading, THEIA creates a sophisticated and elegant line of cocktail dresses and gowns. Each piece has the look of a couture creation at a fraction of the price, making it accessible to women from all walks of life.
Going back to his Irish roots, Mr. O’Neill found his inspiration for the Fall 2011 collection in The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks in 800 AD. Drawing on the swirling motifs, Celtic Knots, interlacing patterns and vibrant colors of the manuscript, he has utilized them in prints and embellishments that capture the essence of the artwork and transform the collection into a brilliant interpretation of light, sparkle and color. The collection captures the artistry of the ancient in a form that speaks to the modernity of today.
Don O’Neill’s THEIA Fall 2011 collection combines all of the elements of artistry and fantasy that make an evening collection desirable with an eye towards perfect fit and wearability. Having only become aware of the THEIA collection this season, I am suitably impressed as to want to follow this collection in future seasons and await what magic Mr. O’Neill will spin next.