Richard Nicoll already proved his cultural perspicacity once this season with his signature show in London, all turned on by the Thin White Duke, David Bowie's most enduringly influential incarnation, at least as far as fashion is concerned. For his other gig, at Cerruti, Nicoll initiated a video starring Malgosia Bela, a model whose presence haunted fashion in the late nineties. He had her perform as the equally haunting and ripe-for-revival Warhol superstar Nico. It was an intriguing decision, given that Nicoll's new collection for Cerruti had a lean precision that was practically the inverse of Nico's chaotic bio. Nicoll is a designer who understands— and is inspired by—the female form, so there was an acute body-consciousness in pieces that had the sleekness of a swimsuit or a jumpsuit, like the sleeveless cropped one that was shown in a raffia weave.
Nicoll has isolated the core of Cerruti as "structured clothes with femininity," and he cut the back out of jackets to make his point, deconstructing and literally opening up the company heritage. It was a bold move that, on the whole, paid off for the designer, more so than the odd silk knit cocoon he laid over a jacket and shorts. Maybe it was the diaphanous nature of that idea that tripped him up. He was much stronger with a geometric pattern inspired by a suit from Hollywood design legend Adrian, which he paired with fashionably Saharan shades of cinnamon and brick for a dressy tailored look. In fact, Nicoll's strongest suit for Cerruti was the dressed-up stuff that took the house's original functional chic to another plane. A jacket beaded in a herringbone pattern, for example, and a tux-cum-jumpsuit (the accompanying jacket took a month to embroider) were glamorously accomplished.