Nina Ricci Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

For many a heritage fashion house, there comes a point when the clothes have to reclaim credibility from a celebrated perfume to reconquer hearts and—even more importantly—eyeballs.

Which is where Nina Ricci finds itself today (it’s in good company, but that’s another story). That’s a heavy mantle to put on its third design team in five years or so, especially when the collection in question is just a placeholder (more on that in a minute).

Having long worked in-house—and before that at Yves Saint Laurent for nearly two decades—design director Nana Baehr knows a thing or two about pulling together a collection under pressure.

The team started, logically enough, by drawing on the house’s storied archetypes and savoir-faire. In lieu of the pretty, well-mannered florals that marked the brand’s heyday came “sprayed” florals-as-camouflage print on one slip dress, for example. It felt like an interesting idea in need of more time. Elsewhere, the house’s tailoring tradition was applied to techy, very on-point materials, like chocolate quilted nylon. A glossy apple-red cloche of a cape (another Ricci touchpoint) contrasted with more traditional houndstooth or chevron wools and soft, thick textured knits. On a lighter note came playful little mohair argyle sweaters in eye-popping colors with matching panties. A little black dress had tulle overweave on the bodice that, despite visual interest, fanned out so high that sipping Champagne would be all but impossible. Having fun is tricky when things keep getting in your way.

The collection notes gave an indication of where this is going: next season a “collaborative chapter” called Ricci Faces will draw on “eclectic talents from the creative industries.” Sounds cool enough. But it does raise the question of what’s in a name.