In the past, Richard Nicoll has been pretty pragmatic about his Resort collection. It was a chance to revisit his best sellers. In other words, commerce trumped creativity. But the pre-collection's march to mega-market share has clearly given Nicoll a reason to rethink. This time round, he sounded revved up.

With good reason. The looks Nicoll showed spanned both his signature kink (i.e., the "invisible suit," a jacket and pencil skirt in sheer nude jersey, paired with a porno pink camisole) and an airy, fairy feeling (see the pintucked oversize smock dress in virginal white georgette, with a hem of a hundred hankies).

The handkerchief hem was carried over from Fall, but here it had a gypsy flair that was a little bit Stevie Nicks. Nicoll couldn't really put his finger on why he felt a West Coast undertow in the collection. Maybe it was the Nicks-y floatiness, maybe the fact he was keenly anticipating his first-ever trip to L.A. next week. Whatever, there was a hint of Hollywood in the silvery jacquard that anchored the collection. When Nicoll cut it into a strapless bustier attached to a swirling cornflower blue dance skirt, it felt easy and upbeat. But sculpted into a saucy little rah-rah dress, the same fabric took on the sheen of sin.

That's what Nicoll is really good at, the part of his work where he turns his technique to crafting something he relishes as "wrong." Here, it was wrongest in the sheer jersey pieces whose strict construction was emphasized by pink or white-piped seams. The designer has also found a dream collaborator in cult artist Linder Sterling. Her surreal, twisted collages provided a welcome graphic jolt.