There are those who consider the cult French director Henri-Georges Clouzot's unfinished 1964 film L'enfer
a pretentious mess. There are others who think it a masterpiece. Richard Nicoll
falls solidly into the second camp. The off-kilter essence of the movie was his inspiration for Spring. Nicoll described its wayward appeal as "saccharine and psychedelic," which dovetailed neatly with the California fixation of his Resort collection. The color palette—a multitude of blues—seemed to follow suit. Except that where Nicoll's head was really at was with L'enfer
's perverse Euro groovy-chic mid-sixties vibe: baby-doll silhouettes mixed up with the era's fashion futurism, and infused with reworked elements from his own career. It added up to a little silvery slipdress patterned after a 1920's dévoré, hemmed with a hoop, and shrouded in plastic, like a couch in a suburban tract home. The peculiarity of such a vision was entirely in keeping with Nicoll's track record. Take, for instance, his blurry floral jacquards. It was like looking at flowers underwater, and the fact they were in a color he dubbed "Laura Palmer blue" only enhanced the David Lynch-ian subtext.
Nicoll himself thought there was "romance and a sense of calm" in what he'd created, but like Laura Palmer entombed in her watery grave, it was the calm of chill stasis. The actual presentation seemed designed to disembody, with its snippety accompaniment of sweet sixties pop that, in context, sounded irony-drenched. (Very Lynch!) And the artifice of those pesky hoops made dresses feel built rather than stitched. It may be true that Nicoll is best in this discomfort zone. He finds an odd wit there (one model clasped a Lucite model of a mobile phone to her ear, a droll nod to show sponsor Vodafone), and it allows him to stretch to the fullest his appetite for decadence. But that means his clothes will always be something more to admire than to love.