After his show today, Richard Nicoll said he'd been looking at the photographs of Edward Steichen, from the twenties and thirties. Those images captured for all time the languid, drop-waisted elegance of Steichen's muse Marion Moorhouse. Fertile soil in which to plant the seeds of a new collection, and Nicoll went there with fluttery tea dresses and long, straight shifts. But he seemed equally entranced by someone much younger: The short, box-pleated skirts, shirttails, capes, culottes, and loafers suggested the uniform of a girl who was still in school (albeit one whose parka hood was lined in blue mink).

Nicoll has always been fascinated by duality: woman/girl, feminine/masculine, uptight/wild. They were all on show today. So was a little dialogue between sober and extravagant. The way, for instance, a skirt would be all mink or tinselly Lurex in the front and perfectly plain in back, or a windowpane-check skirt would be paired with a lamé blouse. Nicoll doesn't work with print, so he said he'd upped the visual element with jacquards. A handful of pieces in beaten gold closed the show. Perhaps the designer felt it was too easy to revisit the spectacular organza ruffles that made up the finale of his men's show in January. They were sublimated in the tight little rosettes that Nicoll used as decoration. Too bad. It would have been fun to see those ruffles again. Their levity was missed. Still, the collection reinforced Nicoll's mastery of color (he looks good in blue) and his knack for tailoring a mean man-styled jacket and coat.