Nina Ricci

Nina Ricci

A French clothing designer, Nina Ricci lived from 1883 until 1970. Nina’s birth name was Maria Adélaide Nielli and she is originally from Turin but later settled in Florence with her family when she was five years old. In 1895, she moved to France and acquired Nina as her nickname.

In the first year of her teens, she became an intern at a tailoring shop. Throughout her teenage years, Nina continued to chase her love for the fashion world. Along the way, she married Luigi Ricci, a composer and jewelry designer in 1904. The couple had a kid named Robert. Four years after her marriage, in 1908 she joined Raffin, a fashion house, as a designer and worked there for next two decades. Soon she became a partner of Raffin and in 1932 became capable of establishing her own design company. At the time, Nina was forty-nine years old and was curious to create designs herself under her name. She designed the dresses while her son managed the finances and business on the whole. In order to make sure that the fabrics fitted together in the right way, she worked on the mannequin directly. Shortly, all her design collections became popular for their feminine, romantic and refined feel.

All through the thirties, the Nina Ricci House expanded rapidly and the one room place became three buildings with eleven floors each. The business operations, by the second world war, developed and included trendy accessories and leather commodities.

After the war, in 1945, designers tried to revive women’s infatuation with haute couture like before and at the same time attempted to raise money for relief funds. With the help of Lucien Lelong, Chambre de Commerce, Robert Ricci put his idea into action. An exhibition was held at Louvre, where more than 145 mannequins from 40 fashion designers in Paris, including Grès and Balenciaga were dressed in the best designs by the labels. After succeeding with this plan in one city, the exhibit toured most parts of Europe and then USA.

In 1935, Nina described the way she desired to design dresses: they should be light weighted, flowy and perfect for dancing; elegance and detail of the dress should attract clients and become their favorite; and lastly they need to be sober and appealing to young fashion minds.

Nina Ricci sketched out her ideas on paper, with colors and placing the model in a setting. She was highly proficient in using fabrics and other materials. Whenever she found a fabric she liked, it was used in the most effective manner. For example, once she saw black floral bordered silk and she cut a dress pattern that fitted flowers on the bust and the rest of the gown was plain black.

She dedicated most of her life to this field and loved dressing women. The geographical locations of her birth and youthful years, Italy and France, helped Nina to develop a strong aesthetic sense for quixotic, luxurious and distinguished clothing. Nina herself wore exclusive clothes and jewelry, designed by her husband, to parties.

In 1948, Nina’s label introduced L’Air du Temps, which was co-designed by her son and Marc Lalique. In the 1950s, when Nina was almost seventy years old, she gradually departed from design and chose to only direct the house. In 1954, Jules Francois Crahay became the head designer of the brand.

Nina Ricci  died in 1970 at the age of 87 and eighteen years later her son died too. The company they found is now being run by Robert’s son-in-law, Gilles Fuchs.


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