The Nina Ricci girl has arrived on dry land. For their fall collection, Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh ditched the aquatic references they had made something of a brand signature and took to the city streets, with a collection that mixed mannish tailoring with touches of boudoir slink.

“This season it was very important for us to create this more grounded woman,” Herrebrugh said backstage, adding the pair based their color palette on the work of Dutch painters who moved to Paris.

Shots of saffron, ultramarine and Sienna red brought to mind Old Masters, but the duo also looked to 20th-century artists like Kees van Dongen, approaching each look like an individual portrait.

One woman might opt for the comfort of men’s staples: a gray wool overcoat, dress shirt and beige pants pooling over sturdy shoes. Another might succumb to the seduction of a black silk pajama set and robe. Boxy cropped jackets were layered over gauzy shirts, while snug mohair sweaters set off extra-large pleated pants.

Whereas the designers previously pushed the Ricci atelier with their sculptural flou constructions, this show saw them exhale. A case in point: the billowing cinnamon dress that brought to mind a painter’s smock.

But their true mastery lay in the tailored pieces: expertly sketched hourglass peacoats with shoulder flaps and corset lacing down the back; a black jacket with subtle leather appliqué motifs on the sleeves, and the sharp line of a black military-inspired coat over a crinkled skirt.

In trading the beach for the city, Botter and Herrebrugh seemed to have lost some of the carefree spirit of the early days. The ambiguity was reflected in the show’s soundtrack, a melancholy mix of Sixties covers and news bulletins (though thankfully no talk of coronavirus.)

It bears mentioning that since they arrived in Paris from Antwerp, the city has been besieged by violent anti-government protests, a 50-day transport strike and now the prospect of an epidemic — that’s enough to give anyone gray hairs. But they’re maturing gracefully. After all, what’s a French romance without a few tears?

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