A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL GOODBY

PARIS — Nina Ricci, which staged its fall show here on Saturday afternoon, is parting ways with its artistic director, Nathalie Gervais. The house is expected to officially announce her exit today.
Gervais told WWD her departure is by “mutual decision,” due to a “change of strategy” within the Puig Group, which bought Nina Ricci in 1998. Last month, the Barcelona-based fashion conglomerate, which also controls Paco Rabanne and Carolina Herrera, restructured its management, which in effect split the beauty and fashion businesses. Previously, executive teams were assigned by brand.
Gervais, hired in October 1998, had input into all Nina Ricci products, including the launch of the fragrance Premier Jour, as well as advertising and other matters related to brand identity. Previously, the Montreal-born Gervais held design posts at Valentino, BCBG Max Azria and Gucci. She declined to comment on what her next move might be.
“We are all very sorry that she took this decision,” said Andrea Pinto, Nina Ricci president. “I’m very thankful for what she did at Nina Ricci, but the house will continue to do its work.” Pinto said appointments to sell the fall collection would commence today. The brand is carried in about 250 doors worldwide. Given the suddenness of Gervais’s departure, Pinto said he could not give details about the search for a successor, but said it would be under way soon.
For her swan song, Gervais continued to imbue Nina Ricci with a young, hip sensibility, opening her collection with a white brocade coat with epaulettes over narrow cashmere trousers that scrunched over boots. Much of the collection had a rock ‘n’ roll edge, evident in fishnet tops, suede dresses with handkerchief hems of netting and even a bit of gold leather. She hit on the military theme with capes, replete with bejeweled epaulettes, and played with the hard-soft idea gaining momentum in the fall collections, pairing delicate chiffon tops with hard-edged leather pants. But the cheerless Russian styles, in retrospect, now seem symbolic of another fashion marriage gone wrong.