Josephus Melchior Thimister

Elizabeth Glendinning

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA247

Born in Maastricht, Holland, in 1962, Josephus Melchior Thimister is of Belgian and Russian descent. Thimister is one of a group of Belgian designers from Antwerp, which includes Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, whose architectural aesthetic resonates in today’s contemporary fashion market.

After graduating in fashion from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp in 1987, Thimister moved to Paris. Here he assisted Karl Lagerfeld, who ran his own label as well as being creative director at Chanel. Thimister then worked at the House of Jean Patou and assisted in the preparation of their 1990 haute couture collection. In 1992 Thimister accepted the position of creative director at Balenciaga, rejuvenating their accessories and prêt-a-porter labels with clean lines and an immaculate construction that echoed the chic modernism of the company’s 1960s heyday.

Following his dismissal from Balenciaga in 1997 due to lack of commercial viability, Thimister launched his own label, which he showed in Paris haute couture and prêt-a-porter shows until 2004, when the label was forced to close through lack of investment. In 1998 he also became art director for the Italian brand Genny, where he reworked classic pieces with his signature minimalistic, structural approach.

In 2005 Thimister was appointed as Patrick Cox’s replacement at the French shoe brand Charles Jourdan, where he was head designer until 2007, when the company stopped production. In 2010 Thimister was invited to present an haute couture collection in Paris by the Fédération Française de la Couture. His self-financed collection, “Bloodshed and Opulence,” referenced the lost decadence of Imperial Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution. Featuring blood-spattered, military-inspired outfits in rich fabrics, the shapes reiterated the designer’s talent for structured silhouettes while taking an unconventional approach to the fantastic notion of haute couture.

Throughout his career, Thimister has explored alternative design paths to that of fashion: he is also recognized as an installation artist, and has had regular work as an interior decorator, illustrator, and design consultant. In the early twenty-first century, Thimister is living in Dublin, Ireland. His fashion house is based in Paris.

Josephus Melchior Thimister, Spring/Summer 1998. Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Alexander Hilary. ““Paris Haute Couture: Season Opens with Josephus Thimister’s ‘Anti-War’ Collection”.” The Telegraph , 23 January 2010 .

Thimister. Web site. www.thimister.com .