Nina Ricci F/W 2016
Nina Ricci F/W 2016

Fitting into the lead creative role in a major and storied fashion house takes a moment for even the best of designers. Guillaume Henry seemed a little uncertain with his first two collections for the house or Ricci, but today’s collection was much more in line with the brand’s aesthetic, more French in the traditional sense, and well worth a few minutes late in the evening to give some serious consideration.

Finally, this Nina Ricci collection returns to the femininity and elegance that it had with Peter Copping. In fact, in some ways, Henry may have one up on Copping. Henry’s not afraid to “go there,” to bring sleeve cuffs well over the knuckles, to create scallops of lace along the neckline, to employ delicate beadwork on chiffon. Silhouettes are carefully tailored, but contemporary, sensual but not inappropriate.

One of the first things one is likely to notice from this collection are the colors. Henry chooses a red that is as bright as fire, which can sometimes be quite a risk. This red stands out, but Henry manages it sufficiently so that it remains elegant. His deeper shades of plug and grey are royal in appearance, even when done as polka dots on patent leather coats. Greens might be a weak spot, depending on who is doing the wearing, but the pieces heavy with sequins are a safe bet.

We’ve seen a lot of amazing coats this season and Henry is a strong competitor for your closet space. From the patent leather pieces, which almost feel more like raincoats, to the fluffy shearling that might easily double as a blanket, his coats are flowing, with strong lines that compliment the wardrobe when open, or keep a look sophisticated when fastened. These are the type of coats for which other women drool.

Oh, and did I mention the ribbed cashmere sweater dress? Careful piping creates the ribbed effect and the lines flow perfectly in form with the wearer. This may well be one of those dresses that, once it is on, you’ll never want to remove it. Expensive? Quite, but one doesn’t get a shot at dresses like this very often.

I am hoping that this collection signals that Henry has made himself at home at the brand and is set to enjoy a prolonged tenure. The Nina Ricci aesthetic doesn’t respond well to being passed around from one designer to another every three years or so. A designer needs time to really understand the history of this label and the difference that Ms. Ricci made in Parisian fashion. Guillaume Henry seems to “get it,” and I hope this is just the beginning of many seasons of beautiful clothes.

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