Olivier Theyskens said he wanted "to introduce a new wave of cool—something urban and gray-ish, but nonchalant, fragile, and superlight" at Nina Ricci. Since he's only just exited the now-defunct Rochas, the collection he showed, though suffused with his signature poetics, felt more transitional than definitive. Like several other designers of his age, Theyskens is accurately intuiting the fact that fashion needs to address a younger, more casual level of dressing, but at the same time, pressure is on him to stay within the fuzzy parameters of the not-so-defined genre of Ricci femininity.

So to begin with, Theyskens focused on teardrop-shaped down-filled blousons, twisted sweater dresses, and diagonally zipped biker jackets that fell open in soft, petal-like folds. If there was a discernible Nina Ricci reference, it was in the spiraling cuts reminiscent of the crystal flacons of the classic Ricci L'Air du Temps perfume bottle. What with the palette of pearl gray, slate, and charcoal, and the introduction of denim, the collection fell somewhere in the range of Rick Owens, the L.A. designer whose clothes have a link to Belgian streetwise aesthetics.

That, of course, is no coincidence: Theyskens is himself a Belgian designer who, before his tenure at Rochas, made an impact, at the age of 21, with strong, dark collections that electrified fashion in the late nineties. His mood now is far more ethereal—the downy feathers floating from the girls' hair established that quite beautifully. Nevertheless, two soft but fiercely cut pantsuits served as a reminder of the tailoring talent that remained latent while he concentrated on femininity at Rochas. Excellent as those were, they added to the tension that hovered over the collection. Theyskens laid on an irresistible finale of trail-y, ragged-edged white and chartreuse fantasy gowns, but still, the question about where he intends to take Ricci was left in the air.