The Legacy of Gerard Pipart

Gerard Pipart’s visions of Parisian chic became the trademark of Nina Ricci fashion house during his 35 years of service as its head designer.

Text: Kelly Desypri


In 1932 Maria “Nina” Ricci became the founder of her very own Parisian fashion house. Her romantic, feminine yet sophisticated designs quickly made their mark as the house’s style while seasonal trends were adapted to it throughout the decades. One year after the foundation of the house, Paris came to know another “new beginning” as Gerard Pipart was born.

The man who would take over Nina Ricci for 35 whole years began his career at the age of 16, under Pierre Balmain and went on to work with Jacques Fath, Hubert Givenchy, Jean Patou and even Marc Bohan. In 1961 he joined Chloe for a brief amount of time, before he was accepted as a chief designer for Nina Ricci in 1964. He stayed there until 1998, something which even exceeded his own expectations -as an haute couturier of that time. In an interview in 1994 with WWD he revealed: “I’m amazed I stayed so long. When I arrived everyone was predicting the death of couture, so I was keen to get in for what were meant to be the final few years. And, despite what people like Pierre Bergé and many others predicted, couture has lasted a lot longer than anyone ever thought.”

His designs ranged from tailored, colourful, clean cut sportswear to elegant yet extravagant couture looks. He had a third sense concerning the use of fabrics, as he skillfully manipulated every material he chose into amusing, wearable chic. During the 1970s he investigated the fluidity of the bias cut, the theatricality of voluminous shapes and the ever feminine retro looks of the 1940s and 1950s.

In his haute couture creations he never shied away from a certain feminine, Parisian elegance through the use of fur trimmings, rhinestone details and luscious fabrics, while during the 1990s he embraced the minimal silhouette of the era presented in vivid colours such as fuschia, orange and kelly green.

Gerard Pipart may have passed away a few days ago, in the age of 79, but his legacy will live on through the Nina Ricci style and his exquisite designs.