Lucky the man who can while away the hours at Café de Flore in Paris and call it work. Peter Copping is determined to grow Nina Ricci's daywear brand and to be known for more than beautiful, romantic dresses. "I don't want to be a niche brand," he said, explaining a recent day spent at the Left Bank institution, where he observed the way the café's clientele (and what they're wearing) changes as morning becomes afternoon, and afternoon becomes evening. With those visions in his head, he turned out a collection as quintessentially French and feminine as they've always been under his leadership at the house, but one that was also more diversified.

Copping used a wool plaid, for example, for everything from a draped, strapless shift to a traditional men's coat dressed up with a flocked velvet lapel. Outwear was an emphasis, as were separates. "Are we ready to see a camel coat again?" he asked, describing a narrowly tailored number in stretch jersey. Yes, in fact, we are. Clever knitwear (in this case, a trompe l'oeil twinset that was really just one sweater) still comes easier to him than, say, hip-slung trousers. But he's certainly no slouch in the skirtsuit department, showing a "tweed look" version in silk cloque shot through with a bouclé thread, and another in ivory stretch wool. And, of course, when it comes to eveningwear, he's in his element. A light blue silk 1930s dress with flocked floral cutouts would make an unlikely but inspired choice at the awards shows later this month.