Lars Nilsson tried to pull off a curious mix chez Nina Ricci today. Perhaps emboldened by the success of his preppy spring line, he set out to inject a bit of the sportif into his delicate, feminine farebut it didn't always stick. The show's first lookan organza mille-feuille dress topped with a bronze cord vest and jacketcame across as quite heavy, even if you ignored the riding hat that was shown with it. Nilsson seemed to get bogged down in the details of his sportswear. A pea coat with three-inch bands of beaver fur above its cuffs was undeniably chic, but it's harder to picture his uptown girls sporting the skinny, cropped-below-the-knee page-boy pants of a three-piece suit in mustard corduroy.
What his soigné fans love him for is his easy way with a dress. Several of the versions he showed today featured an artsy, swirling print, while the others came in those multicolored layers of organza, chiffon, or silk gauze. His facility with such concoctions makes spring a natural for Nilsson. His next challenge is figuring out how to translate the weightless drift that distinguished last season's Empire-line gowns to fabrics with a more substantial and sophisticated heft.