Should Peter Copping go to New York to take a lead design role at Oscar de la Renta, as has been reported, his Nina Ricci show today was a lovely swan song. Copping, at the house five years now, has a firm grasp on Ricci’s trademark romance and femininity, but he has a light touch. Witness the show opener: a vaguely ’40s-ish buff-colored cotton jacket worn with a double-face crepe skirt that was pink on the outside and sunflower yellow on the inside, a fact made apparent by its multiple slits. The collection was animated by what Copping called the “make do and mend” spirit of post-World War II-era Paris, an organizing theme prompted by Madame Ricci and her son Robert’s efforts to jump-start their business with scale models of couture dresses.
Of course, there was nothing literally DIY about these clothes. Unfinished seams and trailing threads aren’t the Ricci way. Unraveling tweed picked out in thousands of tiny matte sequins, on the other hand, is something Copping can embrace. Evidence of the hand was everywhere: in the crinkled silk duchesse of a porcelain blue cocktail number, in the way a sweater sashed closed in the back with a swath of chiffon, and in the skinny leather belts made from shoe straps buckled together. Sonia Boyajian’s found-object earrings and necklaces added to the atmosphere. Elsewhere, Copping was content to celebrate simple prettiness: A tea dress in white and pink tulip accents hinted at an earlier time without feeling nostalgic or retro. For evening, he shook up his familiar Ricci formula, swapping mermaid gowns for dresses shorter in front than in back or a loose-fitting, floor-length tank with jet bead embroidery. Anna Ewers’ sculpted bodice gown was serenely gorgeous—a very fitting exit.