For Lars Nilsson at Nina Ricci, third time really was a charm. Nilsson's first collection for this French house, best known for its scents, concentrated on lace, lingerie, and ladylike suits. His second was an eclectic mix—tweed jackets, sequin capelets, tees under chiffon blouses—in which some of the best elements got lost. For spring 2005, the designer successfully merged these two worlds—and all in a beautiful color palette of orchid, pebble, and blush (Ricci-speak for pale mauve, light khaki, and rose pink).

Nilsson's vision of spring, then, included both a slim top-stitched taffeta skirtsuit and a more casual combination of purple cardigan, scarf-print silk blouse, and above-the-knee skirt, its hem injected with a touch of volume. The standouts were the jackets (cut close to the body, with narrow shoulders, high armholes, and cropped sleeves) and dresses—in particular, one that was draped, bloused, and belted, the other a sweet confection of cotton, beading, and eyelet embroidery.

This was a somewhat repetitive show that would have benefited from a stricter edit. But the handwork on display—the embroideries, the lace trims, the ribboned lace—was typical of the love and respect that young designers at established French houses are now showing for couturelike details and finishes. Long may it last.