Olivier Theyskens created a mood of eccentric romance for Nina Ricci, while John Galliano delivered a collection full of imaginative retro riffs, some inspired by Louis Icart.

Nina Ricci: A melancholy lyricism often wafts through Olivier Theyskens' work. One could feel it last season, despite the pale palette and ample athletic references in his lovely debut at Nina Ricci. The mood became more pronounced this time out in a breathtaking collection that felt both ethereal and consummately modern.

In a season of elaborate staging, Theyskens cut a window in the back of his tent in the Tuileries Gardens, letting nature provide his set. This proved particularly apropos because he envisioned his girls as wood nymphs coming home from a ball. But, he said, "The ball is a rave, a rave in nature."

Whatever event specifics Theyskens' imaginary party planner intended, they allowed for an aura of gentle dishevelment, disorientation even, as the girls wandered in from the greenery outside between two smooth faux-concrete walls. They might have been tired from the evening's revelry; they might have been under the influence of something more potent than the light of the silvery moon. Their hair was plastered down on top under wreaths of branches and feathers, their clothes, dark washes of apparently random arrangements that may have gotten disassembled and reassembled somewhat askew as the party roared on, pillbox hats, face veils and boas heightening the eccentricity.

It all had an intriguing carelessness which Theyskens kept from getting too messy — muted washed silk dresses that hung or clung this way or that; big jackets split in back with tulip openings; skinny pants and the occasional edgy T-shirt for a subversive hint of rock 'n' roll, a full-on ballgown under the warmth of a beaten-up blanket. Yet despite the haphazard tone, the constructions were astonishing, especially evident for evening — a simple white silk number with black banding that fell into a deep collar over elaborate layers in back; an exquisitely pleated silver metallic bustier.

It all had a rich, earthy resonance and a shameless romance seldom found in the upper echelons of fashion. Theyskens has brought something very special to those ranks, and Nina Ricci is one lucky maison to have him in residence.John Galliano: Delightful — John Galliano at his fanciful best. Or at least such was the case once you got past the venue nightmare. Galliano chose to show at the same stadium complex where there was a scheduled football match (their kind, not ours). The soccer seas did not part for the fashion, forcing everyone to walk for days and then push through the exiting sports fans. Once inside, however, those not too tired or too irritated to do more than plop down sour-pussed into their seats could stroll a lovely Victorian boardwalk patrolled by a fey-looking lifeguard, and take in the sights that included a carrousel inscribed with its year of manufacture, 1900. This provided the backdrop for one of Galliano's wonderfully witty frolics.

Of course, precisely because he entertains so ebulliently, his presentations can be critiqued as just that — richly costumed entertainment lean on real fashion, particularly because retro motifs figure so prominently. Here, Galliano decade-surfed through the first half of the 20th century, and seems to have been inspired by the windswept young beauties of the French illustrator Louis Icart. At the end of the runway he even armed a guy with a floor fan, setting the models' flimsy layers all aflutter. But for all its adorable model camping, Edie Beal moments and glitter-encrusted marceled waves, this show was filled with fabulous, wearable clothes. And if they didn't signal a major new direction, they worked the designer's favorite motifs freshly and with loads of charm. In a big, rippled-brim horsehair hat, his first girl out recalled Clara Bow. But look again: her jacket — gorgeous, an embroidered pink confection with short, tiered sleeves. What girly girl wouldn't want it? Ditto his sexy librarian sweaters, twists on a classic, literally, with plackets that swerved suggestively around the body. Dresses came in flourishes of ruffles and tiers while Forties-ish black diva suits played to a more grown-up sensibility. Galliano even offered a swimsuit sampling, his maillots and two-piece nicer than they were naughty. A fabulous and merry romp by the sea.

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