Ken Downing sits down with Nina Ricci’s creative director Peter Copping in Paris.
Ken Downing: The opening of your spring show was absolutely beautiful, so ethereal. The white petals—possibly to resemble snow?—quietly fluttering from above set such a beautiful mood.
Peter Copping: It could be petals or snow. The soundtrack of the show was Sometimes It Snows In April, which, as you know, sometimes it does, especially in Paris.
KD : It created such a feminine, romantic spirit to the collection—soft, serene, very much your vision of the Nina Ricci woman.
PC: Yes, I always think of the femininity of a woman. For me, being an Englishman designing for a French house, I want to always be sure I have a very French sensibility to the collection. . . . This season, femininity with strength was most important to me. I wanted her to be a woman of great confidence. I had been thinking about the book Fifty Shades of Grey.
KD : That has been a theme on many runways for spring.
PC: When I was on holiday, everyone was reading the book. I liked the idea of a woman with a slightly subversive sense to her—very pretty, but subversive. I used zipper details that could be left unzipped to expose lace and mesh. Some of the looks had harnesses for an accessory, or fishnet stockings and garter belts that you could faintly see under the chiffons. Just a little subversive. Not too much, just a little.
KD : Zippers, chains—all a departure for you. There were still many of the lingerie details that you favor, but definitely a tougher edge to the collection.
PC: I took references from street culture. A bit of zip, a bit of chain, the occasional harness for runway drama. It was a slightly punk attitude without looking punk.
KD : Were you a punk when you were growing up?
PC: [laughing] No, I was pretty boring. I wore drain-pipe pants, but was never a punk.
KD : Rather unusual for a boy growing up in Britain, where it is like a right of passage to be a punk, no?
PC: I was always interested in clothes, but didn’t experiment on myself. My parents were always very supportive of my love of fashion. They were a bit hippie-ish. My grandmother was very inspirational to me growing up as well.
KD : The strips of chiffon that were macrameÅLd to resemble lace gave a hint of that hippie upbringing.
PC: I was shredding chiffon to create fringe for my resort collection. I decided for runway to macrameÅL the strips and let it become lace.
KD : It was spectacular! I loved that you created a new idea of lace, but also use traditional lace, often in gorgeous color. Did you macrameÅL when you were a kid?
PC: I did macrameÅL as a kid.
KD : So did I. I have always embraced a crafty moment. But you certainly elevated the macrameÅL by translating it in chiffon.
PC: Again, feminine, but feminine with an edge.
KD : To say I am insane for the aqua dress of chiffon strips with the lace underlay would be an understatement! The chiffon strips fluttered like the soft snow drifting from the top of the tent where you held your show. And the color! The aqua was almost beyond description.
PC: I love color; I’ve never been afraid of color. Turquoise like a swimming pool is what I was thinking about.
KD : And the deep pinks, and the lavender! . . . The dress in pale pink with navy polka dots was unforgettable.
PC: I didn’t want to do flowers, but I wanted a print. I liked how the polka dots gave the effect of a petal without being a true flower.
KD : The polka-dot gown with the asymmetrical sleeve was so romantic, yet thoroughly modern. I can only hope that we see that dress on a red carpet soon. I would toss one of your great jackets over the shoulder and call it done.
PC: I love a jacket. It is such a part of Parisian dressing.
KD : You’ve always been an advocate of the jacket—the jacket and the cardigan, but not just any cardigan, a cardigan with attitude.
PC: I always include cardigans in my collection. I like that a woman has a finishing piece she can add to a dress or to a top and skirt. Cardigans with interesting and unexpected details are throughout the collection. Special details make them more than just a sweater.
KD : Now that the spring runway is but a memory, albeit a glorious one, are you already thinking about your early fall collection?
PC: Oh, of course! I’m always designing and thinking about what’s ahead. I’m very much liking the idea of a jacket for fall, but a jacket with a bit more structure than in seasons past. I am thinking about tailoring and shape, with a bit of a shoulder pad. Not a big ’80s shoulder, just a hint of shape to give structure.
KD : And can I count on you for color?
PC: Color? Absolutely!