Kikishipka   August 17, 2016

Kiernan is featured in an article and photoshoot for Elle Magazine, September 2016 ?✨

scroll down for the article and photos below????

image image image

Designer Guillaume Henry wears his heart on his sleeve when designing for Nina Ricci. He even talks to his dresses. That gentlemanly charm keeps up-and-coming actresses—like Mad Men vet and budding style star Kiernan Shipka—purring for more.
By Alex Frank, Photographed by Jean-Francois Campos, Styled by Maryam Malakpour

Hair by Kylee Heath at the Wall Group for Shu Uemura; makeup by Kayleen McAdams at the Wall Group for Nars; manicure by Emi Kudo at Opus Beauty for Maxus Nails; fashion assistant: Caitlin Myers

When most fashion designers talk these days, they tend to sound as much like media-savvy entrepreneurs as artists. Not so Guillaume Henry, creative director of Nina Ricci.

A charmer if there ever was one, Henry is a refreshing blast from the past—say, all the way back to the twentieth century: an elegant gent with a twinkle in his eye who loves fashion and beauty so much, you suspect he might swoon at the sight of an elegant woman passing by. When we meet at the Sunset Tower in Hollywood, Henry is impeccably dressed in a white button-down and a long car coat. He is the epitome of the postwar Parisian homme—trim, handsome, with a solid wave of shiny brown hair that swoops into a pompadour, reminiscent of a young Yves Saint Laurent. Endlessly polite, Henry sprinkles his conversation with words like passion, emotion, and dignity; he adores “the poetry of every single person.” He even admits to asking his unfinished garments what they want and need. “I’m totally romantic, totally old school,” Henry says. “I don’t fight to be modern.”

Over the past decade or so, Henry has quietly become the goto designer for PYTs who aren’t quite ready to cast off their Lolita charms. His origin story reads like a fashion fairy tale: He was raised in Langres, a village of less than 10,000 that was also the birthplace of eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot, who advocated for a parity of feeling and reason in his philosophical writings—an apt forebear for a man of Henry’s particular gifts. “I was nine when I knew I wanted to be a designer,” he says. After graduating from Paris’s Institut Français de la Mode in 2003, he joined the design team at Givenchy, working first under then chief designer Julien Macdonald and then creative director Riccardo Tisci. In 2009, following a short stint as senior designer at Parisian ready-to-wear brand Paule Ka, he received an unexpected call from investor Henri Sebaoun, who had recently purchased Carven, the storied Paris couture house founded by Madame Marie-Louise Carven in 1945. Sebaoun offered Henry the job after the designer, then 30, gave him a piece of advice: Focus on the kind of clothes women Henry’s own age wanted. That, as Henry demonstrated over four years at Carven’s helm, meant Tippi Hedren–style candy-colored skirt suits and big, cushy coats in keyed-up pastels that tapped into both ’60s nostalgia and French charm—the kind of clothes that attract fans ranging from Rihanna to Alexa Chung.

Since taking on his present role in 2015, Henry has been tasked with working similar magic at Nina Ricci, a house in flux after a decade of revolving-door designers, including Lars Nilsson (2003–2006), Olivier Theyskens (2006–2009), and, most recently, Peter Copping, who left in 2014 to become creative director at Oscar de la Renta. Founded in 1932 by the Italian-born, Paris-based designer Maria “Nina” Ricci and her son, Robert, who managed the business side, the brand was long known for its romantic, feminine dresses and its romantic, feminine eau. By the 1970s, the name Nina Ricci had become synonymous, stateside at least, with the daffodil-colored floral blend (jasmine, carnation, rose, gardenia, and more, underscored with a hint of sandalwood) L’Air du Temps—“the air that we breathe”—a figurative expression referring to the mood and spirit of a given era. Originally launched in Europe in 1948, it’s still one of the best-selling fragrances worldwide. With its swanning-model ads and Lalique-designed winged flacon, L’Air du Temps summed up the house’s spirit of frothy femininity—f lou, as it’s known in French.

When Henry took over for Copping, he found himself compelled to hit the reset button. After a tour through the house archives, which reside in the atelier above the label’s boutique on the corner of Avenue Montaigne and Rue François Premier, he realized, “Nina Ricci in the ’50s and ’60s was a couture brand about structured pieces. Very madame. But it was a work of atelier—chic, proper, welldone.” Enticed by the idea of upending people’s expectations of Ricci as the “girly” brand, Henry gravitated to those stricter shapes and silhouettes, with an emphasis on stauncher, more serious garments.

From Henry’s first fall 2015 collection, his signature look has been an oversize man’s car coat thrown over a delicate dress in perfect déshabillé, as if his woman, running out the door after a night at a paramour’s, had quickly grabbed the first thing she found. “The Nina Ricci woman, she’s got a slipdress, a man’s coat, and just a touch of L’Air du Temps on her neck. That’s all,” Henry says. “It’s a woman you see on the street and you ask, ‘Where is she coming from?’ more than ‘Where is she going?’ It’s her little own mystery. Maybe she didn’t sleep. Maybe she’s going back to work with glasses to hide her eyes.” Thus there is both romance and practicality in her life. And as for that dress? “It’s a little broken, like you danced in it all night long,” he adds.

Both at Carven and now at Ricci, Henry’s clothes have attracted a particular type of ingenue, one who radiates youth but also intelligence and sincerity—Henry defines his type as “girly and strong”— epitomized by Dakota Fanning and Mad Men alum Kiernan Shipka. The latter says she is a longtime fan of Henry’s work (well, long is relative when you’re 16), but she meets the designer himself for the first time on their ELLE shoot in a Los Angeles photo studio where, perched in the makeup chair, she reports that she has just earned her driver’s license.

Born in Chicago, Shipka moved with her family to Los Angeles at age six for her acting career, and within six months was cast in the role of the wide-eyed grade-schooler who grew into an increasingly complex Sally Draper. The world watched Shipka grow up onscreen, but also on the red carpet, where she evolved, with remarkable composure and nary a misstep, from a prim little girl in comfortingly age-appropriate party dresses to a pitch-perfect young woman with a taste for colorful, demure ’50s and ’60s silhouettes informed, no doubt, by her day job. Shipka loves Henry’s designs because they express the tricky balancing act that she feels in her own life, as someone not old enough to vote but expected to be preternaturally poised on red carpets and in interviews. “That’s really important to me: clothes that embrace the age I am but that are still sophisticated,” she says. “The clothes kind of instantly make you feel a little… French.” On set, Henry asks her for L.A. travel tips; she recommends the Broad, a museum of contemporary art that’s famous for housing Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. Later, he notes that “you can see in her eyes that she’s clever—and to me, clever is attractive.”

Toward the end of the shoot, Shipka slips into a floor-length red sequin sheath from the fall collection. It is “major,” she declares, fit for “the most stylish holiday party ever or the red carpet.” She shimmies a little in the mirror, pulling up the hem from her bare feet, and smiles the way other girls her age do upon finding the perfect prom dress. “I don’t know if this is a word, but I’d describe his clothes as all very glowy,” she says approvingly.