Olivier Theyskens' collection for Nina Ricci was like watching the performance of a long piece of self-referential romantic poetry. It's a world of his own, and to fully appreciate it, you need to know what's gone before in his work: his love of Edwardiana and tailcoats; the fluttery, flyaway cutting; the delicate prints and the dusty, organic woodland-floor palettes he likes.

This season, he said he was "inspired by dance and dresses that each evolved their own shape, short in the front and long in the back." Though there were some of the flange-sided, jodhpurlike pants Theyskens has been developing for the past few seasons and a sighting or two of his signature jackets (like an off-white crackle leather with Victoriana sleeves, or one that was made from blue-gray chiffon), most of the show was devoted to a long sequence of trail-y dresses. Essentially, it was a single silhouette, with a high collar, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and skirts cut away to show long lengths of leg, clad in sheer black tights, walking on high-heeled pumps.

As the dresses came and went on a long runway, the vista of floating trains and looped-up demi bustles had a certain cinematic beauty and technical ingenuity—georgette panels became fused with hosiery to flow from the leg in movement. In all? Exquisite and ethereal though it was, the vision seemed too limited to take Theyskens' talent anywhere new.