Nina Ricci is to part ways with duo artistic directors Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh. The news was confirmed by luxury group Puig, which operates the label.
Curaçao-born Botter and Dutch native Herrebrugh have helmed the brand since 2018, to mixed reviews.
The designers are thought to have mutually agreed their exit with Puig to concentrate on their own label Botter, an emerging Paris-based brand that won the Hyères prize in the same year as their appointment.
Botter, which shows during the Paris men’s fashion week calendar, defines itself as a house of Caribbean couture with sustainability at its core. Its collections are contemporary and colourful, edgy in an emerging fashion way, but far from the tropes of Nina Ricci’s founding sophistication.
A revolving door of designers
Of all the French luxury houses, Nina Ricca has had a never-ending revolving door of creative teams, with seven design appointments since the start of the millennium. It enjoyed some success under Olivier Theyskens and Peter Copping, but has lost its relevance in recent years. Rushemy and Herrebrugh’s collections veered the brand into a new direction that was more sporty and contemporary but lacked refinement and elegance in its quest to appeal to a younger audience.
What to many in the fashion industry might seem as an obvious route to success for the brand: smaller collections, ethereal femininity (cast an eye to Chloé during Hannah MacGibbon and Stella McCartney’s tenures for references), all silky romance, camisoles and lightness, is yet to filter down to the brand's bosses. Architectural tailoring and sportswear is so abundantly available across the retail spectrum that they cannot be trumped if a similar creative direction is adopted at Nina Ricci.
Nina Ricci could be the perfectly small haute couture and ready-to-wear house, much like Azzedine Alaia, playing by its own rules and seasons. Ricci herself had a technical knowledge second to none and would drape and design her creations directly onto mannequins. The house’s inimitable perfume, L'Air du Temps, created in 1948, remains one of the world’s most iconic perfumes, and presumably has financed the core fashion business.
End of an era
Nina Ricci recently announced it would close its Avenue Montaigne address, where it has resided since 1979. A new strategy of becoming a digital-first success story would require a new generation of customers, and will undoubtedly prove tricky, with turbulent times ahead for Puig’s ailing label. Yet there remains hope that a carefully considered appointment could still revive the house that once dressed the most stylish women of the day.