paris fashion week: nina ricci

(images via style)

as i’m sure you’re well, well aware by now, i love peter copping’s vision for the french house of nina ricci (see a/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, pre-fall 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013), and for the label’s a/w 2013 exhibition at paris fashion week, he reminded us of the fabulous red dress that was making the rounds of all the nyfw catwalks and suddenly turned burgundy for milan. but it was back to all its dripping artery’d glory here, and with a particularly special strapless version on vanessa axente, complete with some architectural pleats that reminded me of the work of the serbian designer ana šekularac.

on the whole, there were plenty of gorgeous, flirty little cocktail numbers, most either in the aforementioned cherry hue, in black, or in some shade of antique ivory, cream, white, or just on the palest of pink. or gray-blue, with, i think, one smart tweed suit in a full shade of medium gray worn by julia frauche, which basically also accounts for how much workwear there was on display, probably my sole problem with the show. in other words, it was impossibly lovely, but particularly if you have, like, a lot of teas to go to, or you’re a finefine lady circa 1954.

as per the norm, mr. copping selected a dance theme for the collection (as he frequently likes to do), and while we’ll be coming to exactly what in a moment, i’d say maybe that was my other problem with the show–that it skewed a bit young. to be sure, nina ricci has always been something of a flirty, carefree label, but save for a few looks with covered legs, most frocks hit well above the knee, and i couldn’t help but think most girls (and goodness! even the very young!) need to keep them under wraps (especially at work), and it might have been a treat to see the ricci take on trousers (we are in the fall season, after all).

so, really, on the whole, as much as i found the individual numbers, with their built-in corsets and flippy little details, to be astonishing, i’m kind of puzzled that so many designers (like gareth pugh and versace, to name but a couple) are insisting on such narrow, specific dressing for the upcoming season in lieu of a wider range, with an assortment of pieces that go into the making of a woman’s complicated, variegated life. but maybe this speaks more to the separation of high fashion customers from the rest of us, and this discrepancy in lives in find rather sad.

but! i don’t want to linger on the negative aspects, especially while there were so many goodgreatexcellent things on display courtesy of mr. copping! so i’d like to call out some particular favourites of the show, like antonina vasylchenko’s amazing asymmetrical black sleeveless dress, with its almost bondage-y straps (like three blending down to two), that was trailing just a bit of tulle from the skirt, as though her lover had torn it just a little in the struggle to get it on. and also, anmari botha’s more formal midi-length black affair with its weighty feathered hem and the lace inserts allowing us some peeks of the skin beneath on the bodice and tops of the thighs was pretty bloody seductive.

and so, with that, are you ready to hear the critics weigh in on the subject? rest assured, as they’ve been most of the season, i doubt they’ll be troubled with problems like what the everyday woman thinks of all of this. but! alas! here we go: “Copping created a collection that was meant to evoke the ‘long and lean’ silhouette of a dancer,” explained fashionologie. “Skirtsuits and off-the-shoulder sheaths segued into more structured, architectural vests and full skirts. Eveningwear was strewn with rosettes, which were particularly striking on a lace-backed radzimir gown.”

elsewhere, we heard from the washington post that “(t)he dance, seen in the balletic inspiration of the show — which featured models with hair pulled back, and heels like pointe shoes and ballet slippers. Though the show didn’t take too many risks it was slick, saleable and, at times, very sexy. With full red lips models walked in blacks, crimsons and soft pink in silhouettes that varied from the long to the super short, with the odd revealing bustier. Some wonderful flared knee length skirts channeled designer Peter Copping’s fascination with the vintage and romantic.”

and vogue explained that “Copping worked his theme by fusing it with all those things he does so well: fifties-tinged tailoring, like a curvaceous red suit with a tied neckline resembling the sleeves of a sweater knotted around the neck; demure sweaters atop skirts that were short and full or long and superlean, both sensuously swaying down the red-carpeted runway; and utilitarian coats—this season, the parka—elevated by being variously worked with quilted silk, feathery plumes, fox fur, and a swirling, soft, teddy bear–like fabric. The parka, Copping said, came from seeing dancers go to auditions and rehearsals, their tautly clothed frames swathed in a big enveloping layer on top, an idea he played up in the show by putting a bodysuit under some of them.”

meanwhile, in a particularly pissy turn, the nyt‘s cathy horyn briefly offered that “Peter Copping turned to the dance world for a graceful, nonchalant elegance conveyed in fitted washed wool suits, blush-pink silk slips and open necklines. Without prints and not many saccharine details, the clothes looked fresh. A pair of pianists performed Philip Glass’s ‘Two Movements for Two Pianos‘ Still, it’s a narrow view of womanhood that Mr. Copping presents, reflected not just in the retro silhouette but also in the fact that he used only a few nonwhite models,” and while i’d normally take any opportunity to scold a designer for the latter, i’m not really sure why she’s taking issue with this particular show. it wasn’t any worse than most of those we’ve seen this season (which is to say, besides tom ford, they’ve been terrible in terms of diversity).

but back on track. according to style, “Copping has made a concerted effort to expand Nina Ricci’s daywear offerings. His special little sweaters have become favorites among those in the know. Here, he riffed on warm-up clothes, layering knits of different gauges one on top of the other, and leaving the ribbon at the nape of a sweater untied as a ballerina would. The portrait neckline of a skirtsuit was draped with extra sleeves, like a sweatshirt tied around the shoulders; another jacket paired high-low style with quilted sweatpants that had a genuinely relaxed feel. Parkas also made their first appearance on the Ricci runway, the best in red wool with opera-coat lines and a fox-fur-trimmed hood.”

“First out,” noted grazia, “was a selection of knitted ensembles combining stretch wool skirts, ruched across the thighs and cashmere blended sweaters in monochromatic pairings. Cutting through the b&w theme were head-to-toe cardinal red looks including a skirt suit with a sweater-style knot at the décolletage and a soupy silk dress with a cowl neck and deep draped backline. Most notable were the off-the shoulder, undone knits layered with fine gauge cashmere vests, ballet leotards, concertina pleated tutus and hook and eye fastened corsets – all speaking to the en pointe world.”

finally, though, it was wwd, reflecting that “softness was the collection’s through-line — whether in the head-to-toe reds; the gorgeous quilted, fur-lined parka that had a gently rumpled look, or the evening portion of the show. There were exquisite bustier dresses and gowns with touches of the tastefully suggestive — clear bra straps or underwires turned upside down for decorative effect. But one of the showstopping exits was all languid drama: an ivory-and-pink slipdress that fell into a panel of pleats and was loosely belted with a floating ring of ostrich feathers.” it was beautiful, if unreal. but then, i suppose dreams are what we come to paris for after all, non?

(enjoy the fashion show video here)

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