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Lars Nilsson Quits Nina Ricci

Godfrey Deeny
August 23rd, 2006 @ 2:26 PM - Ibiza

The bolts continue to come of the Puig family fashion fiefdom.

Lars Nilsson, the much-admired Swedish designer, is leaving Nina Ricci, plunging yet another Paris house owned by the wealthy Catalan family into confusion.

Already this spring, the Puigs radically downsized the fashion division at Paco Rabanne, though they did retain the services of New York-based design director Patrick Robinson.

Nilsson is rumored to be about to return to New York, where he garnered a high profile and socially connected clientele when in charge at Bill Blass in the early part of the new century.

The elegantly mannered Swedish designer has generally won positive reviews since he debuted at Nina Ricci back in October 2003. Nilsson's easy feminine style and preference for refined and preppy looks seemed well suited to the Nina Ricci aesthetic. His departure will prevent Ricci from staging a fashion show during the next Paris Fashion Week in early October.

Nilsson's most recent collection was inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film "Smiles of a Summer Night" and the designer had been busy of late showing it personally internationally.

Lars had hinted to friends that he has a US-based project in the pipeline, though he was clearly very much at home in Paris. The Swede began his career as a design assistant at the two Christians - Dior and later Lacroix. Nilsson was later a major social Upper East Side hit when helming Bill Blass, which he joined after a stint with Ralph Lauren.

The Puigs, major fragrance players and controlling shareholders in Carolina Herrera, will have to act quickly to fulfill the position, and there is speculation that they may hire Olivier Theyskens, the critically acclaimed Belgium designer, who has been on the job market since last month when Proctor & Gamble closed down the fashion division of Rochas, where he was creative director.

Ricci may, however, temporarily promote Nilsson's studio director Vanessa Bellanger, the ambitious former aide to John Galliano. Stay tuned..

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