Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang wasn't the inspiration for the men's and women's collections shown by Nicholas K today, but it might as well have been. In the book, a MacGyver-esque ex-Green Beret and a lithe New York City bohemian go rogue in the American West, plotting anti-industrial sabotage. Subtract the radical environmentalism, perhaps, and that's pretty much the vibe of the clothes designer Nicholas Kunz dreamed up for her brand this season.
In some ways, that's familiar ground: Kunz has taken inspiration from military garb from the start, in particular seizing on all the creative possibilities inherent in the standard-issue Army parka. That's made for some standout outerwear in past seasons, and this Spring was no exception—boys and girls alike got outfitted in super-lightweight parkas, mostly olive drab, variously tweaked with details such as oversize hoods, distended collars, ruched sleeves, lacing up the back. Underneath those coats, the clothes had a general slouch, which helped give the collections their nomadic feel. That was winning in the simpler pieces, such as loose shorts in sand-washed chenille, tapered khakis and long, knit cardigans (all for both men and women), but it sometimes got heavy-handed. A little drape goes a long way.
The collections really found their level in looks that mixed the rustic and the urbane. The shirting was generally strong, made out of woven cotton stripes and checks developed in-house and cut in a variety of pleasingly off ways. Leather vests and jackets had a grit that was simultaneously streetwise and outdoorsy. There was also a nice textural quality to the layered ensembles, which—along with the palette of rubble colors cut with rust and end-of-the-horizon mauve—was suggestive of the rich yet hard-bitten landscapes of the Southwest. Edward Abbey would approve.