For his second collection helming the Nina Ricci house, Guillaume Henry wanted to focus on creating a line, and a woman, that men would “fall in love with.” An admirable goal, but one that was better in theory than execution. The Spring/Summer 2016 line almost hit its mark, but through poor styling and the use of cumbersome fabrics, fell short of expectations. Considering Henry’s success in bringing the once-defunct couture brand Carven back from the brink, it’s clear he understands womenswear, but he seems to be having a hard time finding the Nina Ricci woman.
Inspired by the ‘70s and ‘90s, Henry’s silhouettes were the best aspect of the collection. Wrap dresses hung off of shoulders, skirts were given hourglass shapes, and outerwear was well-tailored and draped beautifully. Some of his bold-colored, V-neck dresses were the best pieces in the collection, and just grasped his romantic vision. With the right fabrics, the cuts alone could have made the collection a success, but instead of using gentle fabrics that would frame the figure and highlight silhouettes, he opted for harsher, more unforgiving textiles. Cowhide, patent ostrich leather, and feathers were at opposition with the softness of the cuts and left the collection feeling forced.
He attempted to elevate some of his more minimalistic pieces with additions like feathers, pleats and floral appliqués, which only seemed to take away from the beauty of some designs. In a few cases the collection's colorways—a dark palette of olive, mustard and rose—seemed to overwhelm and distract from a look, particularly when used in conjunction with a material like patent leather. It was clear that the most simplistic designs were the best, and should he revisit his silhouettes next season, hopefully he’ll do so with the use of softer materials.