February 15, 2006 London
Nicoll (an Australian who graduated from Central Saint Martins with a master's degree) said he was inspired by Victorian housemaids, but what he presented was a completely original look free of the historical whimsy that turns so many young designers to mush. It involved voluminous, self-striped white leg-of-mutton shirts tied at the neck with black velvet bows, tight bras or bodices layered over them, and either pegged tweed pants and eighties biker jackets, or soft, slouchy cuffed cord shorts. It takes a lot to pull such complicated elements together into something crisp-looking, especially when it's all styled with polka-dot stockings, high ankle boots, and the odd pair of patent gauntlets, but that's what Nicoll did. Better still, seen separately, all those pieces are beautifully made and totally wearableparticularly his shirts, which look like they could be the foundation of a nice little business on their own.