"It's masculine meets feminine." As many times as we've heard that, it's never been uttered by Peter Copping at Nina Ricci. This Paris label is as femme as it gets, so Copping's Spring collection was something new. "I was looking at the eighteenth century, when men were romantic," he said. In other words, there were no Wall Street-ready pinstripes here, but rather modern interpretations of tailcoats. As a sheer white scrim was drawn across the length of the Tuileries tent, the first model emerged in a collarless redingote, only a sliver of her appliquéd lace dress peeking out from its hem. From there on, Copping set up the boy-girl interplay in countless ways: a bib-front tuxedo top was married to a mirror-strewn pencil skirt; other skirts came with shirttail-shaped hems; and a delicate knit was accompanied by cropped pants in a suit-lining stripe.

The details invited close study. The only thing is, Copping did nearly the first half of the show entirely in white. It would've been more compelling to see him turn his delightful color sense to his chosen topic. When the Sevres blue did arrive on strapless duchesse satin dresses, it was a revelation. Pictures do it little justice. The flower-print silks were just as riveting patchworked on a pleated V-neck dress or collaged with lace on a halterneck style. The whole collection was pretty, but it only really came alive at the end.