You can be guaranteed that Richard Nicoll will use the word "pragmatic" at least once when he is talking about his latest collection. Sure enough, at his presentation today it emerged in tandem with "authentic" as a guideline for the spirit of utility that steered him through his recent turmoils. When Style.com last sat down with Nicoll, he was feeling burned out, unsure of whether he could even be bothered doing another show. Pragmatism dictated a presentation instead. And what a smart move that turned out to be. Not only did it provide Nicoll with an opportunity to simultaneously shoot his lookbook and offer a sly comment on the fashion industry (he turned the shoot into a production line, where the designer and photographer were factory workers and the models and clothing the product), but the presentation also gave him the confidence to do something plain and simple. "And it's my favorite collection ever," he exulted.
The production line was actually the theme of Nicoll's new work. He called it Modern Times, after Charlie Chaplin's silent cog-in-the-wheel classic. He was also thinking about Play Time, Jacques Tati's take on the same subject, and the clothes that emerged were influenced by the idea of clothes for work, everything from the boilersuit to the smock to the suit. Lines were straight, silhouettes unfussy (a blessing after Spring's hoops). Nicoll mentioned "modesty" as a keynote, and there was certainly a decorum in his pleated shifts, and sweater and box-pleated skirt sets—except for the fact that the modesty was contradicted by a look-at-me color palette of hazard orange, safety yellow, and electric blue. And the sweater in that set was cashmere, the skirt usually leather. Nicoll's attention to the body led to suggestive interplays of sheer and solid, as in a gray skirt with a stripe of sheer running up the thigh, or a boilersuit with a sheer top.
The bag that accompanied the collection was also plugged in to the idea of work. London fashion week sponsor Vodafone has developed with the designer a tote that recharges mobiles, thus closing the door on one more excuse to go off-grid.