Ricci, Nina

(1883-1970)
   Born in Turin, Maria Adelaide Nieli (nicknamed Nina), left Italy for Paris and at the age of sixteen became a seamstress at the couture house Maison Raffin. In 1899, she married Luigi Ricci, a Florentine jeweler, and two years later was promoted to a "première d'atelier." Upon the death of the company's founder in 1929, she left the house and, with the encouragement of her son Robert Ricci, she opened her own house in 1932. Known as the architect of gowns, she occupied eleven floors and had 450 women working at her atelier before the outbreak of World War II. After the war, her son Robert, the vice-president of the Chambre Syndicale, organized an exhibition of dolls from fifty-three designers, known as the Théâtre de la Mode, which helped promote French fashion and accessories, and which later toured New York, London, and Los Angeles. In 1940, Ricci launched her first fragrance, Coeur Jolie, packaged in a Laliqué bottle. More than ten fragrance and beauty lines followed through the years, but none as popular as L'Air du Temps, which was created in 1950 and remains one of the best-selling fragrances in the world.
   Designer Jules François Cahay took the helm at Ricci in 1954, and, in 1960, it was the first couture house to sign a licensing agreement in Asia. In 1964, Gerard Pipart was hired as creative director and, in 1970, Nina Ricci died at the age of eight-seven. The house continued to prosper, adding a women's ready-to-wear collection in 1979 and a menswear line in 1986. However, most of the revenue was generated by the fragrance business. In 1988, upon son Robert's death, the house was bought by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. In 1998, it was sold to the Barcelona-based beauty and fashion conglomerate, the Puig Group. Designer Lars Nilsson was hired as creative director for the collection in 2003 but was replaced in 2006 with Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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