MAHANY PERY FOR NINA RICCI | FALL 2019 READY-TO-WEAR
December 10, 2019
Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh were a surprise appointment at Nina Ricci. The couple, in work and in life, have a young menswear label, Botter, whose oversize tailoring and energetic humor caught the attention of the fashion world last year. They were LVMH Prize finalists and picked up the top design award at the Festival d’Hyères. They’ve never designed womenswear. Nina Ricci is a historic house with the most feminine of aesthetics. As a couturier, Ricci didn’t have the distinctive design signature of contemporaries like Cristóbal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, or Madame Grès, but her perfume, L’Air du Temps, is one of the most famous going.
“They gave us a blank page,” said Herrebrugh at a preview. Not unpredictably, their debut leaned heavily toward tailoring. With an eye to couture shapes, they planted a big bow at one shoulder of a double-breasted boxy jacket and swaddled others with demonstrative wraps. The designers proved they have a contrarian streak: The maillot shapes that they superimposed on the bodies of coats and blazers were, they said, a riff on the traditional corsets found in Nina Ricci tailleurs of old. The results weren’t quite as elegant as they probably hoped, but one exercise that worked well was the patternmaking they did using a parasol. Opened and laid flat, it provided the template for the twisting shape of the show-opening blouse, which was as light and airy as what is expected at Nina Ricci. The hats, sort of like oversize cloches perched high on the head, were modeled on the cap at the tip of the parasol.
The designers came at the trademark Ricci lightness a couple of other ways. One was to use lawn-chair mesh for several pieces, including a dress and skirt layered over trousers—the oversize grommets and thick cording were the giveaways. Their other idea was to reproduce Bubble Wrap in organza; small and large squares of the bubbles decorated two-dimensional dresses. “It was quite a lot of research,” Herrebrugh said. It makes sense, never having designed womenswear, that the duo would approach this project conceptually. To conjure the signature Ricci romance, they’ll have to learn to lean more on instinct.