After some curious delving in recent seasons into ancient Celtic and Viking themes, Nicole Miller returned to the present for spring. Or at least to a more familiar, not-so-distant past. Backstage after her show at Café St. Bart's on Park Avenue, the designer said she was inspired by the early and late parts of that ever-plundered decade, the sixties. The former was represented by baby-doll dresses with modish bubble skirts and an Empire-waist coat, while the latter turned up in embellishments like crocheted waistbands and shoulder straps on cocktail numbers and gowns, and a colorful geometric scarf print that hinted at Pucci.

Not everything was retro. There were terrific cuffed shorts, prairie skirts in metallic taffeta, and sweet cotton camisoles, similar to those that pretty young things have been donning all summer. But too much looked borrowed from fashion's current group of It boys. Tulip skirts, intricately seamed bustier dresses, and others with all-too-familiar cutouts looked a lot fresher on the runways last season.