“Very chic, very French.” That’s how Peter Copping described his spring collection for Nina Ricci. He might have added charming, as, in what is shaping up as a strong, diverse Paris season, he offered some of its most unabashedly flirtatious clothes.

Like others this season, Copping is thinking haute — “Sixties couture, if you like” — but unlike those going the power-architecture route, his approach was all feminine, from the curvy, lacy bejeweled clothes to the straw cage hats, which, he said, recalled the days when Alexandre de Paris, rather than Guido Palau (who did his models’ hair) ruled the Paris beauty scene. Starting with constructed lingerie, Copping showed suited looks and dresses, both full-skirted and hourglass, in laces, cloqués and printed jacquards. He embellished with delicate patchworks and encrustations of high-sparkle embroideries. And lest it all swing too precious, he incorporated the occasional biker twinge, albeit gentled up in a short jacket over a cocktail or a pale leather trench.

About the prints, which worked the fresh side of retro, they came from the archive Zina de Plagny, after whom Copping named his collection and who’d done a great deal of work for the house founder. In a moment of celestial alignment of the sartorial sort, Copping saw an article on de Plagny’s daughter and keeper of her archive. He intended to contact her, but she found him first. He took his patterns directly from the de Plagny archive, gentle florals memorable in contrast with all of the season’s screamers.

Copping has carved a strong yet challenging niche for himself at Nina Ricci. Every now and then, bolder evolutionary strides from one season to the next will be essential if he’s to retain the excitement factor. But one cannot deny the appeal of these clothes for the woman who wants to be ladylike and sexy at the same time.

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