In the giddy game of musical chairs that the fashion brands seem to delight in playing, and which must be head-spinning for retailer and client alike, this season sees Guillaume Henry (late of Carven, girlish, quirky, naive) at the house of Nina Ricci (whose previous incumbent, Peter Copping, has of course taken his own sense of grown-up quirky chic with him to Oscar de la Renta).
Henry wiped the palette clean of the eclectic romanticism with which Copping defined the house and instead presented a collection of scrubbed-clean basics, subtly reimagined with games of proportion, and discreet embellishment.
“Femininity, sensuality, but simplicity,” were the keynotes of Henry’s “Ricci woman,” as he explained during a preview. “I don’t like the idea of a woman screaming that she exists. Sophisticated but not pretentious.” Instead, he proposed a pack-and-go wardrobe of gently tweaked classic pieces—an overscale caban or a shaggy goat-skin jean jacket, say, with the sleeves extended so that only the tips of the fingers showed, to suggest that you really had borrowed your boyfriend’s coat (“for me there’s nothing more feminine than a woman in a slip and her man’s jacket,” as Henri explained). Or a skinny lace dress with buttons on the shoulder like a matelot sweater. Embellishments came as fringing layered over those cabans, and as the solid sequins on T-shirt dresses (or tunic-and-skirt ensembles) that had been washed “to have the idea of memory.”
The very feminine history of the house was subtly suggested in the plume tufts on a satin organza camisole dress, or the porcelain buttons molded with the symbol of the dove of its legendary L’Air du Temps fragrance.