Designer Diaries – Queen Silvia and Nina Ricci

The Italians know how to meld family and design. Nina Ricci was founded in 1932 by Maria (Nina) Ricci and her son Robert. Nina was the designer, and Robert ran the business side. Together, they formed an elegant powerhouse of creativity that continues, under different ownership, to this day.

The Nina Effect

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Nina came from a multi-national background. Born in Italy, in 1883, she moved to France at age 12, and eventually married an Italian businessman husband. She had been working as a seamstress and designer for French fashion houses since she was 13, so her creative vision was well-honed by the time she started her own design house. She desired to make women as feminine and beautiful as possible, using luxurious fabrics and adding creative flourishes – which I like to call the Nina Effect – to her designs. She was known for draping fabric on a mannequin and designing the dress from that point – not from paper designs.

Her designing career was paused during World War II. After the war, the Ricci family was looking for a way to jump-start their haute couture business and to generate interest in the industry as a whole. To that end, Robert Ricci worked with Lucien Lelong in developing an astonishing exhibit of French design. Using 150 mannequins dressed in designs from forty Paris couturiers, including Nina Ricci, they promoted the Théâtre de la Mode, which eventually toured Europe and the USA. The Ricci business was on an upward trajectory from that point.

Making the Dress, 1946 Louvre Fashion Exhibit, Wikimedia Commons
A Panorama of the Exhibit, Wikimedia Commons

Nina Ricci herself died in 1970, but the business continued under her family’s guidance until it was purchased by the Spanish company Puig in 1998. Queen Silvia began wearing their designs in the seventies and has continued to do so up until the current day.

Queen Silvia – 1993

This bold entry is a certain attention getter with it’s ballgown skirt done up in stripes. The Nina effect is seen in the ruffled neckline and embroidered jet bodice.

Queen Silvia – 1995

The dress is comprised of grey taffeta containing dark and light tones and a pink bodice with a green belt. The Nina embellishment effect is seen in the rosettes decorating the back of the skirt.

Queen Silvia – 2001

The tulle, the tulle! I think you can see the Nina effect immediately here – the use of tulle and the densely pearl-embroidered bodice are a dead giveaway.

Post your own photos of the Queen and the NIna-effect in the comments.

The younger generation of Swedish royals has focused on wearing local Swedish designs. Next week we turn our attention to one of the newer members of the family and her favorite Swedish designer.