A ballerina’s life — job requirements include a preternatural grace, delicate poise and being pretty. All three attributes could also comprise Peter Copping’s mission statement at Nina Ricci. It’s plain to see what drew Copping to an advertisement David Hamilton did in the Seventies for the house, featuring dancers and “picking up on the very soft side of it,” said Copping during a preview. The stage and all its costumed glory represents only a fraction of the ballet world, where days are spent rehearsing in the discipline’s own specific fashion vernacular — leg warmers, leotards and bra tops layered up and under wraps. It’s an elegant dishabille that Copping fused seamlessly with his ladylike stylings for a collection of serene beauty.
Working in tones of crimson, blush, ivory and black, he crafted silhouettes that varied between long and lean and fit and flared, both adhering to classically feminine traditions but infused with undone details that gave the look a modern nonchalance.
The models walked out like porcelain dolls — their lips full and red, hair pulled back in knit headbands, with feet in heels inspired by ballet slippers and pointe shoes — as musicians Katia and Marielle Labèque played Philip Glass on dueling Steinway Grands. A cropped, ivory merino turtleneck over an ivory wool skirt worn high on the waist with a gentle wrap effect and falling to just above the ankle was a perfect example of daytime glamour, potent in its understatement. A red Shetland sweater with a matching duchesse satin skirt that fell in a circle of thick pleats represented a more robust romance.
Yet softness was the collection’s through-line — whether in the head-to-toe reds; the gorgeous quilted, fur-lined parka that had a gently rumpled look, or the evening portion of the show. There were exquisite bustier dresses and gowns with touches of the tastefully suggestive — clear bra straps or underwires turned upside down for decorative effect. But one of the showstopping exits was all languid drama: an ivory-and-pink slipdress that fell into a panel of pleats and was loosely belted with a floating ring of ostrich feathers.