Richard Nicoll debuted menswear last season with a collection that felt like a huge sigh of relief. "This is what I'm good at," it seemed to be saying, oh so well. Maybe too well. Nicoll confessed after his latest men's collection that Spring came so easily to him that he became quickly bored with it. That admission certainly dovetailed with the contrariness that has characterized the designer's career, but it was also troubling because it suggested that he might arbitrarily throw away Spring's clarity and momentum. It's a relief to report that he didn't cast off the clarity, but it's disappointing to note that the momentum seemed to have stalled.

The fault for that lay in Nicoll's stated inspirations: "Reduction, industrial essentials, '80s No-Wave." He's proved himself a past master at creating urban uniforms, nowhere more so than with the jumpsuits he himself wears, but there was something too uniform, too reduced about this collection. A paint-splatter pattern that insinuated itself as a new take on camo was called upon to supply the visual interest. And injections of aluminum and hazmat orange shook up the no-wave flatness of denim blue and urban gray. Nicoll said that what he wanted was "more of a sense of character," but curiously enough, that was exactly what was missing this time round. If his Spring collection made you want to know more about Richard Nicoll, Fall made you wonder where he'd gone.