NEW YORK —?Two months after he was let go from Bill Blass, Lars Nilsson has landed a job to design for Nina Ricci in Paris.
This story first appeared in the April 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Nilsson signed a contract with the French label on Friday and will be based in Paris, although he said the position will enable him to continue to spend a considerable amount of time in New York, where he moved in 1999 to work as women’s design director for Ralph Lauren.
“It’s going to be great,” Nilsson said. “I will have a good connection to New York and I’ll come to the city as often as I can.”
During the two years he worked for Blass, Nilsson built significant relationships with the magazine and retail establishment here, which would benefit the ongoing efforts to revitalize Nina Ricci.
The Swedish native trained in Paris and worked as Christian Lacroix’s personal assistant for nine years before he was named director of the couture studio for John Galliano at Christian Dior in the mid-Nineties, building a strong connection to the Paris ready-to-wear and couture industries that was reflected in his designs for Blass. After moving to New York, he was recruited to work at Blass by Steven Slowik, then the head designer, and took over the collection after Slowik was dismissed following his poorly received debut.
Nilsson brought on board as design director Herve Pierre Braillard, a friend from his days in Paris who was then working for Vera Wang, but both were let go in February — a day after they showed their fall collection — in a move that surprised many in the industry.
Meanwhile, at Nina Ricci, rumors had been circulating that James Aguiar, the former Bergdorf Goodman fashion director, was leaving the house following the presentation of its fall collection, two years after joining the company. That news came shortly after the appointment of Paul Deneve as president. Deneve starts May 2.
Nina Ricci is part of the Barcelona-based beauty and fashion conglomerate Puig, which also owns Carolina Herrera in New York. Coincidentally, Braillard ended up joining that company following the Blass shakeup and the departure of Herrera’s design director Damiano Biella.
At the time of Deneve’s appointment, Marc Puig, head of Puig’s fashion division, stressed the group’s commitment to Nina Ricci’s fashion business, saying, “It has a tremendous potential that has not yet fully materialized.”
Nilsson declined to further comment on his appointment, but said more details of the brand’s plans would be available shortly.
At Blass, the company has since named a new head designer, Michael Vollbracht, who designed a signature collection in the Eighties and co-curated an exhibition and catalog of the designer’s career, working with Blass before his death.