Smiley. Patou SS20

The last time Patou, the over 100 year old French maison founded by Jean Patou, hit the runway was in July 1986 during the Haute Couture presentations. The maison’s designer at that time was Christian Lacroix and, the day after the show, he resigned and established his own label with the financial support of Bernard Arnault. From then on, the brand became dormant, barely surviving through its cosmetics and fragrance businesses. It’s 2019, and the label is resurrected by the man who brought life back at Carven (it didn’t survive without his creative direction, as the latest news prove) and Nina Ricci: the extremely talented Guillaume Henry. And looking at his joyful debut, I doubt this project will either be a blow (Vionnet comes to my mind) or another exhausting French brand revival (Courrèges). The spring-summer 2020 look-book is a line-up full of beautiful, wearable, quintessentially French clothing that doesn’t fall into cliches. “Personally, I want to go back to dressing my friends,” he told the press. ”Patou was a couture house back in the day, so I want to keep that philosophy, with an atelier—but with reality.” What to love? The lace blouses and very French short navy A-line skirts, the bubble dress, or the chic-modern pink wide-leg trouser suit with a silk shirt with an extra long, trailing scarf-tie. Or it might be the neat, sporty sweaters with the original JP logo from the ’20s and lovely denim.The black coat with white lace collar and mis-matched buttons is another favourite. “It’s a friendly brand; I’m dressing real girls,” said Henry. ”I want it to have a smile and enthusiasm.” One more thing: the label plans to sell its high quality clothes at prices that are much more affordable comparing to other Paris-based luxury labels.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Refined. Nina Ricci AW18

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So what’s the deal with Guillaume Henry at Nina Ricci? After seasons of working at the heritage brand, the designer was reported to leave due to the maison‘s underfunding. Then, Nina Ricci’s company responded to the news by denying Henry’s departure, just hours after the recent fashion show. Oh, that crazy fashion…

But still, would you say Ricci needs a new designer? Throughout those three years, Guillaume has changed the label into an exciting and very refined place for women seeking the ‘Parisian allure’ (if we really need to use a cliché). Shortly, those are delightful, beautiful dresses, coats and accessories. Although the autumn-winter 2018 collection indeed felt as if it was witnessing a budget cut comparing to the last seasons, it was… well, good. Even very good – see the fur coats; the chic trackpants; voluminous shirts. I think that’s the main problem with old houses being suddenly revived by investors. The owners want big profit, they want the brand to be on everybody’s lips – but is giving the right amount of time for the designer even taken under consideration? Worth consideration.


Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Show Girl. Nina Ricci SS18


Honestly, I really can’t understand why other fashion critics heavily underrate or slam Guillaume Henry‘s work at Nina Ricci. I think what he does at the heritage French maison  looks extremely exquisite and at the same time isn’t too obvious. Even if we’re talking about a military-inspired jacket that had a moment at the Les Invalides fashion show. The collection started calmly: there was an ecru coat with extra-large shoulders styled with, yes, biker shorts. To a surprise of many, it ended with a vivid splash of radiant pink and eye-catching yellow. The most remarkable looks were all about feathers – from head-pieces to mini-dresses – and had something of a chic, Belle Époque inspired show girl. If all the world’s a stage, fashion must be a circus (note that even the runway was under a festive tent). As for me, just let Guillaume have a blast.


Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Commedia Dell’Arte. Nina Ricci Resort 2018

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Guillaume Henry is getting better and better with every season at Nina Ricci. The labels’ autumn-winter 2017 collection presented a few months ago was, for me, one of the season’s biggest highlights. Today, we’re seeing the resort 2018 look-book, which is equally exciting. The colours! The silhouettes! The creative director’s main reference was commedia dell’arte – it’s a one-of-a-kind, Nina Ricci take on Harlequin, Pierrot and Columbine. “It’s in my blood to be bourgeois; it’s just a matter of being fun about it,” Henry explained. Indeed – canary-yellow fur coat and bumpy mini-dress, exaggerated volume of shoulders, fluffy pompoms on flats and huge collars bring aristocratic, even theatrical drama. What’s even more impressive about this collection is the way how Guillaume handled the theme. Those Harlequin-inspired shirts and coats don’t look ridiculous, but unbelievably refined. Also, greet the pistachio-green Tambour, a bag resembling a miniature drum. Genius.


Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Bourdin and Americana. Nina Ricci AW17


In Milan, we’ve got Jil Sander, where Rodolfo Paglialunga was trying, trying and finally successed in capturing the spirit of a label (unfortunately slightly too late, as he is said to be leaving the house) originally created by a woman with vision. Meanwhile in Paris, a similar situation was going on with Nina Ricci, where Guillaume Henry took his time to understand the brand’s rhythm and the founder’s codes. But autumn-winter 2017 is the clear evidence that he’s the right person behind Ricci, with fresh concepts and remarkable respect for the maison‘s aesthetic. His latest collection is brilliant, in every aspect. The make-up and pastel colour palette instantly reminded you of Guy Bourdin’s  iconic Polaroids and visionary visuals. The clothes were femininely chic, but at the same time Wild West with all those over-sized belt buckles and flesh-exposing silhouettes. If you aren’t fully happy about the subtle nod to rodeo, Henry once again showed that he really can cut a great coat. And there’s a wide range to choose from.