When he launched his menswear four seasons ago, a cloud seemed to lift off Richard Nicoll. Where once there had been uncertainty and anxiety (qualities that he often managed to translate into women's collections that were memorably twisted), there was now optimism and focus. So ears pricked tonight before Nicoll's latest men's show when he said, "I've stopped worrying about everything." Surrounded backstage by ruffled organza shirts, draped pants, metallic slip-ons, and a rack of outfits for a model named Elvis, it looked like Rick was ready to rock.
But he would never do anything that overt. In fact, as physical as his outfits get with their flapping shirttails and baggy Bermudas, there is always something insinuatingly cerebral. When Nicoll runs a stripe down a trouser leg, for instance, you're never quite sure whether you're looking at a track pant or a tuxedo pant. Here, there were jersey tops labeled DISCREET and BRUTAL, taken from titles on Brian Eno's 1975 album, Discreet Music, partly because Nicoll claimed inspiration from Eno's fascination with the subliminal effect, but equally because the words suggested opposites, and that was what he insisted the collection was built around: discretion versus decadence, chaos versus order. Before you take a deep breath, have faith that Nicoll was making sense. There was order in the precision of his tailoring; there was discretion in the outfit toned head to toe in teal blue (the monochrome palette being one of the designer's signatures). There was decadence—as Nicoll saw it, at least—in Lurex jacquards and those sheer organzas, part seventies prom night, part Cuban bandleader. And, again in Nicoll's eyes, there was chaos in his approach to clashing patterns, textures, and colors, much less restrained than usual.
That lack of restraint also applied to a vibrant, jazzy palette—from icy citron to deep, sensual violet—that once again asserted Nicoll's position as London's most accomplished menswear colorist. He said he was ready to celebrate that he had stopped worrying. It showed.