Nina Ricci's creative director Guillaume Henry talks about his latest collection, his muse and femininity.
Your latest collection for Nina Ricci is a big departure from the brand's classic, girly style. What did you want to achieve? "I wanted to express my own vision for the brand. The first show, in March, was my debut. I wanted it to be delicate and sophisticated but not to push any fashion concept too far. For the second season [autumn-winter 2015], I wanted to express my feelings. We always talk about femininity for the Nina Ricci brand, but I don't think femininity necessarily means sweetness or being cute. For me the label is about elegance, but it can be a little tough. It's an expression of beauty but also vulnerability, strong but not aggressive."
Who is your muse? "For both collections it was German actress Romy Schneider. A true beauty but a little broken. In the movie Max et les Ferrailleurs, she wears a lot of make-up and has all these trench coats in patent leather yet she's a woman you want to protect."
You transformed Carven, injecting a storied but sleepy brand with youthfulness and freshness. Why did you leave? "I felt it was time to experiment with a new challenge. I'm also looking a lot at my colleagues and friends. Five years ago we were all kids and now, because of the experience we've had, we have matured and are involved in personal stories and professional ones. It was time for me to dress a woman. It sounds weird when I say that to myself but I feel I am a man now … and maybe I wasn't five years ago."
As a French designer, what do you think about the Paris fashion scene today? "The way I work, I'm never concerned about the global fashion business. It's true that there is something happening. There's more French designers in French houses; several years ago it was only the likes of Nicolas Ghesquiere, for example, now you've got a new generation coming up."
If you weren't a fashion designer what would you be? "I would love to be a movie director because I'm into really ordinary extraordinary things. But I'm glad to work in fashion because I'm able to tell stories every six months."
What is your idea of femininity? "Femininity doesn't mean chiffon dresses. As a designer, I won't want to underline twice the idea of femininity. That's why my first collection was navies, neutrals, cabans and pants - because you can still be ultra-feminine wearing that."