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Monday, September 29, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Nina Ricci

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

The setting of a Nina Ricci show always manages to transcend the usually mundane tent experience. The first Nina Ricci show with Olivier Theyskens at the helm was held on a magnificent winter day with a translucent pale-blue sky and leafless trees that were in such sharp relief that they looked like cutouts. For that particular show, he opened up the tent and made full use of nature's backdrop. With the addition of a fog machine, the girls looked like they had walked right out of a James Tyrrell installation. In this way, he established the delicate sensitivity of the brand.

For spring, he sectioned the venue into three long passages lined with the backs of canvas paintings to achieve an intimate atmosphere. This allowed for a close examination of the work, in this case the delicacy and beauty of his dresses. This was not a collection to be viewed on a pedestal, but on ground level and on reed-like, wafer-thin girls, each draped in an exquisite version of a single concept: a floor-length Victorian-inspired dress complete with a long train, while the front ended high above the knees. In the wrong hands, this would screamed showgirl, but not here.

The colors were painterly, shades of flesh, dusty rose, the palest of china blue and lavender organza. Each dress was like a subtly different collage, treated with fine details, thin cutaways, the lightest ruffles, the most subtle of floral prints and washes of color. There was a light-as-air hand-crocheted cardigan thrown over one dress, a mutton-sleeved white kid-leather jacket worn over another. A single pair of black trousers with a delicate leather jodhpur ruffle at the sides stood out, shown with an unlined leather riding jacket. In all, the collection was very reminiscent of Theyskens' earliest work, pre-Nina Ricci and pre-Rochas. It was as if he had decided to no longer follow the desires of a house, but those of his very own.

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