She’s A Lady. Nina Ricci SS21

It seems that Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh are finally finding their ground at Nina Ricci. In the storied salons of the maison‘s headquarters on rue Francois 1er, its designer duo had a generational confession to make: they use their phones for all kinds of creative tasks, including sketching. “They’re not beautiful sketches. Just quick things,” Herrebrugh noted, while her partner Botter added that he does observe “old school” procedures, too. In contrast, perhaps, to some members of the Paris establishment, these young designers’ natural relationships with their phones were what made this season’s digital show format so instinctive to them. They presented their Nina Ricci collection through the (imagined) recorded screen of an iPhone, scrolling the viewer through their research process, from Google searches to YouTube clips and exchanges on iMessage. What it didn’t reveal was the actual inspiration behind the collection: L’Air du Temps, the institutional fragrance Nina Ricci launched after the Second World War. Light and elegant, it cut a decided contrast to the dense perfumes of the old world. “It was a message of hope, optimism, and revival. That’s what we wanted to bring with this collection,” Herrebrugh said. Its flacon, designed by the Art Nouveau glass artist René Lalique, informed the cuts, colors, and movements of dresses. They had the inimitable touch of this designer duo: a splicing between the couture heritage of Nina Ricci and the swimwear techniques that are their personal obsession. The nature of that marriage – not unlike L’Air du Temps itself – is confrontational, but Herrebrugh and Botter are sticking to their guns and continuing to refine their take on Nina Ricci. “I feel like there’s a balance in this collection between our tailoring background and the codes of the house. We’re finding our own fluidity,” Herrebrugh said, referring to the menswear label they run on the side, which carries Botter’s name and earned them the Nina Ricci gig in the first place. Ironically, the most unassuming garment made the biggest impact: a tech-y pleated translucent blue blouse, which had the digital lightness expressed in the meeting between iPhones and the L’Air du Temps flacon. It was quite hypnotizing. Much like both of those inventions, the simplest designs are often the most enduring and made for a modern-day lady.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Ninalicious. Nina Ricci SS20

Packages of “Ninalicious” bubble gum were gifted to guests at Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh’s Nina Ricci show. This was a light-hearted nod to their new season silhouette, a floating dress in airy cloque (and in bubble-gum pink, of course) It’s their second season at the label, and they stir things up by taking the historical maison in an unexpected direction. For them Nina Ricci isn’t just about safe, lady-like dressing. The spring-summer 2020 line-up had humour and a quirky kind of youthfulness. Just look at the brightly colored buckets that functioned as bags and hats (these are great!). The designers said they were inspired by a summertime trip to the beach with their nephews and that they were after a sense of nostalgia. The joyous colour palette pleases the eye, just as the peplum tops and XXL ruffle dresses. But in general the collection lacks a stricter edit. The sharp tailoring doesn’t work with the overall softness of the line-up. Some of the silhouette look too exaggerated (take the opening look’s white top with unnecessary, big shoulder pads). Also, I feel like Botter and Herrebrugh still haven’t established their Nina Ricci look. Maybe it’s too early and they need time. Still, big thumbs up for their optymistic thinking.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Light. Nina Ricci AW19

Paris saw two debuts at historic maisons that were originally found by women. The first was a proper, but mild restart at Lanvin by Bruno Sialelli. The second appeared to be at Nina Ricci, where Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh took the role of creative directors. The couple have a menswear label, Botter, whose oversize tailoring and energetic humor caught the attention of the fashion world last year, made them LVMH Prize finalists and scored a top design award at the Festival d’Hyères. They’ve never designed womenswear, but LVMH gave them a blank page. So you could actually expect anything. The designers decided to play rather safe and referred to Ricci herself, whose fashion was roamntic, airy and light. Rushemy and Lisi cleared the garments of any unneeded details, like lace or embroideries, and delived a line-up of minimalist, yet feminine silhhouettes. There were organza tops and flowing gowns, but we’ve also had beautifully constructed suits and over-sized shirting. For me, this collection lacked the intrigue that Guillaume Henry (Botter and Herrebrugh’s precedessor that parted ways with the brand quite abruptly) delivered to the brand. But I’m paying attention to what’s coming from the new creative directors in the near future.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.