February 09, 2011 New York
There were two garments this season that, respectively, underlined one of Nicholas K's recurring weaknesses, and epitomized the brand's enduring strength. Kunz has a praiseworthy interest in versatility, and a real respect for the way people adapt clothes to their own ends; when she's on, she translates that into pieces such as this collection's cabled hand knits for men and women, which transformed the workhorse Aran into slouchy cardigans, heavy enough to work as jackets, that zipped at a rakish angle. Those pieces are going to be worn and loved for a long time by the people who buy them. On the other end of the spectrum, there were the skirt-shirts—button-downs retrofitted into skirts, which could also be worn as tops. In that case, Kunz used versatility as a contrivance, a "Look, Ma, no hands!" trick. She's better than that: At heart, Kunz is a detail-driven designer who understands that it's the subtleties of proportion and fit and the cleverly functional elements she adds to her clothes that make them special.