Richard Nicoll is a practical designer, and for him, Resort is a practical collection: "an opportunity to edit best sellers and formalize ideas for Spring," as he puts it. His latest showing also offered a first look at how his experience at Cerruti is impacting his own line. "I've grown up since I've been there," says Nicoll. "I'm more confident, more direct. I feel this is my most real collection." That reality was evident in the title he came up with, City Break and Christmas Party, signposting a clear division between daywear and eveningwear.

The first meant a silk chambray shirtdress or a navy shorts suit or a navy pinafore dress, like a school uniform evolved into a working woman's standby. (Nicoll's attraction to uniform dressing is one of his strengths.) The second meant a full-length skirt in Lurex seersucker georgette topped by an elongated sweater, or a georgette tee tucked into a long, slit skirt in silver panne velvet. Connecting the two was the instinctive sportiness that reflects Nicoll's Australian background. So the building block of the collection was a tank dress, and even the most complex piece—a tiered skirt in Lurex georgette that was just begging to be given a twirl—was attached to a sporty little polo. The pure clarity of the collection evoked Claire McCardell—never a bad thing—but Nicoll introduced an edge that was all his own in the subtle futurist (maybe even fetishist) accents of navy patent: a collar, a bustier, the front panels on the jacket of that shorts suit. If "a luxury version of the Gap" was where he wanted to go, then he also managed to take sexy with him.