What is Nina Ricci known for? Well, it's known for L'Air Du Temps, with its Lalique lovebird stopper. Other than some hazy, gauzy notions of pastel femininity and the odd honking great bow, that's the sum of the brand image in the public eye. The question thrown up from Peter Copping's latest Auutmn/Winter 2012 Ricci collection, and indeed the question-mark over his tenure thusfar, is simply - is that good enough?
This collection sauntered off down the same path as those before, a terribly French vision of floaty, seductive femininity. It's the kind of picture-perfect Parisienne vision that could only be offered by someone from another country, slightly hackneyed and at times a little embarrassing. At one point a model tried her best to slink in a deconstructed mink coat thrown over a hammered satin little slip dress, but managed a mince instead. That misstep is a neat metaphor for a lot of what we saw, the sheer pyjamas, the robe-style coats with cliche powder-puff fox collars, the patched tulle and point d'esprit over tweed that tried to look arty but ended up looking lumpen and bodged-together. There was supposed to be some kind of lingerie deshabille thing going on, something sexy about a woman tossing her furs across little more than a plisse slip of mousseline - but that slip got caught up with cloque and diamante, wrapped in ribbon and festooned in fur. A curly lamb overcoat in a questionable Milk Of Magnesia shade of chalky pink and a few twisted-up tulle prom dresses were sweet enough to induce diabetes, or at least test your gag reflex. And oh Lord, there were so, so many bows.
It all collapsed somewhere around the middle, like a towering mass of candyfloss imploding under the weight of its own sugar. What it collapsed into was a resolutely staid, static vision of womanhood, gorgeous women gorgeously dressed in artful disarray - you may say dressed by a man, for a man, although its Copping's idea of what modern women want to wear for evening that's the problem, not his gender.
Some beacons of hope shone through, say an openwork dress of crotched black ribbon that ended up resembling bobbin-lace, or sheer chiffon trousers shown with opera gloves, with fur stole attached. That was sweet enough to look sick, delicate enough to seem tough. It felt different. Otherwise, this stereotypical collection of chi-chi cocktail frocks without the shocks brought absolutely nothing new to the table, bar another collection of so-so clothes women will doubtless become very bored with very quickly.