Nicholas K designer Nicholas Kunz found inspiration close to home this season—specifically, it was her recently purchased upstate getaway that did the inspiring. As references go, upstate is a comfortable fit for a brand that has always trafficked in easy-feeling, rugged street wear, and Kunz didn't stretch herself much to accommodate it, mostly limiting the news in the men's and women's clothes she showed today to a nicely judged woodland palette of variegated greens, rusts, and riverine gray-blues. The designer also played around with texture, introducing cozy pieces in black and emerald velvet that looked a little off layered with the rest of the collection's plaids and parkas. (They'll do fine on the sales floor on their own.) A better blend of utilitarian and boho luxe was found in the standout women's outerwear, including a longish black parka and short wrap jacket trimmed with generous heaps of Mongolian lamb fur.
There were two garments this season that, respectively, underlined one of Nicholas K's recurring weaknesses, and epitomized the brand's enduring strength. Kunz has a praiseworthy interest in versatility, and a real respect for the way people adapt clothes to their own ends; when she's on, she translates that into pieces such as this collection's cabled hand knits for men and women, which transformed the workhorse Aran into slouchy cardigans, heavy enough to work as jackets, that zipped at a rakish angle. Those pieces are going to be worn and loved for a long time by the people who buy them. On the other end of the spectrum, there were the skirt-shirts—button-downs retrofitted into skirts, which could also be worn as tops. In that case, Kunz used versatility as a contrivance, a "Look, Ma, no hands!" trick. She's better than that: At heart, Kunz is a detail-driven designer who understands that it's the subtleties of proportion and fit and the cleverly functional elements she adds to her clothes that make them special.