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Maximalism, streetwear, and ‘90s remixes may rule the current fashion landscape, but just like when it launched in 1997, Theory is offering a counterpoint to the prevailing trends with a considered and contemporary take on elevated essentials, all thanks to the brand’s newly appointed Creative Director: Francesco Fucci.

Tasked with updating while also honouring its legacy, Fucci already seems right at home. Most recently Head Designer at The Row, and having worked under Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg, Fucci has a finely-honed understanding of American fashion, and, more importantly, how and where Theory fits into this world.

With his first collection for Pre-Spring 2019, Fucci emphasized “the idea of building a menswear wardrobe for a women’s body” and focused on Theory’s foundation: the pant, jacket, and shirt. In particular, the shirt seems to have captured the designer’s imagination: “A classic white button down represents my vision for the line. This style is influenced by menswear and it is versatile, sophisticated and romantic,” explains Fucci. It’s no surprise then, that a crisp white button down is featured on the first page of the brand’s Pre-Spring 2019 look book, followed by variations on the shirt, along with oversized tunics, relaxed tailoring, easy to wear knits, and plenty more minimalist yet romantic designs.

Here, Francesco Fucci shares why he wanted to join Theory, the inspiration behind his debut collection, and what he hopes to achieve as Creative Director.

What attracted you to the role of Creative Director at Theory?

I saw Theory as an exciting opportunity because I had a clear vision of how I wanted to evolve the brand. For my first collection, my goal was to return to Theory’s roots and create a new glossary of garments. To me, Theory has always epitomized American sportswear and minimalism, and that is very much in line with my own aesthetic.

What inspired the Pre-Spring 2019 collection?

I believe traveling in the US was the best way to create a relevant point of view as a European designer working at an American brand. Before I started at Theory, I visited Marfa, where I felt like I was discovering the true America: amazing scenery, colors and even the sounds of the wind. I immediately became fascinated by this breathtaking and monumental landscape, which heavily influenced the collection.

The collection also focuses on the concept of the uniform, which has always been part of Theory’s DNA. I looked at American uniforms of the past, like the nurse and the postal worker, as sources of inspiration to design more casual garments for every day.

Another reference that I always bring with me is dancer Pina Bausch. Her work was about creating tension between a woman and a man, similar to Theory which was born creating a menswear wardrobe for a women’s body.

You grew up in Italy and trained both there and in Paris, but you have made a career for yourself in New York—what led you to working for American brands instead of staying in Europe?

American design and minimalism have always been important points of reference for me. I moved to NY because I needed a clean slate. New York is so strong, but I would never abandon where I’ve come from, so I like to mix my European culture with something more streamlined.

You put a big focus on materials—why is this so important to your designs?

For me, the most essential parts of the garments’ expression are the fabric, the colours and the silhouettes. The quality of raw materials is fundamental to build a strong collection.

The fashion industry can be so fast-paced and demanding, how do you unwind and take a break from work?

I like to visit galleries and visit the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, NY. I am also fascinated by the people of NYC and love to people watch.

What do you hope to achieve at Theory?

My goal is to enhance the original codes that Theory’s founder, Andrew Rosen, set 21 years ago and to reflect on the principles of great fit, fine fabric, and minimalist style that have always guided Theory. I would like to also add a touch of emotion and romanticism to the collections. For me, it is important to express a new point of view and highlight the brand in a new light.

Theory is available at all Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy locations.