With every season, Richard Nicoll's work has been steadily becoming more solidly convincing and wearable—while also getting more inventive each time. It takes some daring, for instance, to make a winter collection more or less entirely in cream and shell pink, and even more to carry it off into the kind of structured clothes, like trenchcoats and streamlined dresses, he's never really made before. But the coats, with their exaggerated storm flaps, and the slick overlays of PVC and sly references to corsetry, looked so chic they could shine on any runway of New York or Paris. And as for the color combinations, well, isn't the world already pleading for some alternative to black and gray?

Nicoll's way is an unusual combination of pragmatism and a creative flair for making the best of things. The way he patchworked menswear fabric on top of basic toile canvas later in the collection was, he said, "kind of utilitarian. We've all got to be cost-conscious, and that was my way of superimposing something luxurious on top of something basic." The other, more slyly subversive element in the show was the injection of corsetry references, from the odd garter belt fastening dangling from a storm flap to a built-in girdle in a powder pink bodysuit. Certainly, there won't be many of those hanging in department stores next fall—but it's perfectly within the bounds of probability that they'll be in hot demand from music industry stylists. Which means, when it comes to the accounting, there's little in this tight collection that won't pay its way.