By  on January 28, 2009

PARIS — Peter Copping, a seasoned designer at Louis Vuitton under Marc Jacobs, is in line to succeed Olivier Theyskens as the next designer at Nina Ricci, according to sources.

It could not immediately be learned when Copping might take over the design reins, or if he is constrained by any non-compete clauses.

As reported, Theyskens’ contract at the Paris-based house is in effect until the end of October, meaning the Belgian wunderkind could design and show up to two more collections before passing the baton. However, it is understood there are tensions between the designer and management that could lead to an earlier separation.

Officials at Nina Ricci and its parent, Puig Fashion Group, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

It is believed Copping has already submitted his resignation at Vuitton.

Reached late Tuesday, Louis Vuitton president and chief executive officer Yves Carcelle had no comment. Copping could not be reached for comment.

WWD reported on Jan. 15 that Puig was in talks with Copping about a possible role at its fashion division, which also includes Carolina Herrera.

An Englishman and a low-key figure on the Paris fashion scene, Copping is a graduate of the Royal College of Art and the London fashion school Central Saint Martins. Jacobs recruited Copping as his first assistant at Vuitton when the French luxury goods giant launched a ready-to-wear collection a decade ago. Before that, Copping worked for several years in the design studios of Sonia Rykiel.

Copping’s arrival at Ricci would mark the end of Theyskens’ tenure during which he won torrents of editorial acclaim and lifted the brand’s profile in the marketplace, yet failed to ignite the business at retail as the French brand also seeks to gain traction in the high-margin accessories business.

A darling of the fashion press, whose ethereal designs have been seen on stars like Reese Witherspoon, with whom he formed an alliance, Theyskens showed his first collection for Ricci in March 2007. He brought a romantic vision to Ricci’s runway, and also oversaw a new store design as exemplified by the gray, apartmentlike flagship on the Avenue Montaigne here.

Previously, Theyskens was creative director of Rochas before parent Procter & Gamble Co. shuttered the money-losing fashion house. (As reported, P&G recently signed a global licensing agreement with Italy’s Gibò Co. SpA to manufacture and distribute Rochas rtw, with designer Marco Zanini set to unveil his first collection here in March.)

Theyskens leaped onto the international fashion scene in 1998 at age 21, when he dressed Madonna in a striking black satin coat with hook-and-eye closures for the Oscars and she anointed him her new favorite designer.

Theyskens was immediately dubbed a Goth hero and a rising star. He put his signature collection on hiatus when he joined Rochas in 2003.

The designer could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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