In his fourth season as creative head at the house of Bill Blass, Lars Nilsson has established a few of his favorite things. The Swedish-born, Paris-trained designer loves folklore-inspired patterns, handcrafted details and—in an industry that consistently returns to black—vivid color. Part of the challenge for him at Blass is to incorporate these elements into the label’s tradition of sparely elegant sportswear.

There were moments when Nilsson achieved just the right balance: a bold chevron sweater, a creamy silk taffeta shirtdress, a simple white shirt paired with an A-line skirt embroidered in heavy silver bars. He used whispery silk seersucker to make pretty blouses and a pouf-sleeve shirtdress that will look great rippling in the spring breezes. But some of the looks he sent out, like a hip-length navy pinstripe blazer with emphatic shoulders, or elephant-leg trousers, seemed out of step in a season where pants are cut lean and jackets are generally short and swingy.

There’s no question, though, that Nilsson knows how to delight the eye: He closed his show with a torrent of tropical-toned evening wear, from flamingo pink to hibiscus red, that's sure to have all his customers yearning for their summer vacations