Whether it's the injection of cash that did it, or turning 30, a transformation has come over Richard Nicoll's collection in the space of six short months. Within three looks—layered white organza shirting, a tailored jacket with a stiff geometric peplum, and a narrow mid-length silver sequin skirt—this talented young Australian had his audience sitting up, looking surprised. Here was a complete image, part Amish, part early-eighties Japanese—but also believably real-life-now.

Nicoll has already established the fact that he can design excellent shirts—his contributions to last year's shirtdressing trend were some of the best. But we've also seen him play around with American sportswear and trot out a pair of big pleat-front trousers, which scared most women to death. In most people's minds, he was a "junior" designer. Then he won the French ANDAM award and the British Fashion Forward. Now, look: The linebacker football shirts have morphed into grown-up tailoring with a built-up shoulder line (as in a gilded sleeveless coat-dress), and those once-heinous pants have been relaxed to drape and flow in a way that looks totally believable.

With fan-pleated, tiered accordion skirts in white, ivory, and nude organza and many graphic variations on his signature shirts, he also caught the feeling for plays of transparency and opacity Marc Jacobs probed in New York. Midway, there was even a glimpse of color as tiny, diffuse splashes of violet and pink appeared on a pair of skinny white jeans and a silk shirt. If Nicoll can keep up this pace, he'll find himself moving up to the next league.