June 17, 2012 London
The Nicoll signature was instantly recognizable in the precise geometry, the Gattaca-like modernity, the streamlined physicality of the clothes. In fact, if anything, it was maybe more convincing to see Nicoll expressing those ideas for men. Aside from the fact that he started out as a menswear student at Central Saint Martins, there was the fundamental gender compatibility: man designing for men, or, more to the point, himself. So if there have been frustrating times in Nicoll's career in womenswear when it felt like he was overthinking his way into a creative cul-de-sac (those hoop dresses from Spring 2012 being a perfect case in point), his male intuition worked here to ensure there was no chance of that. Anyone who has seen Nicoll out and about in London could instantly picture him in the clothes on the catwalk, starting with the cotton jumpsuit that is almost the designer's uniform.
Nicoll is a natural athlete. That came through in all the bared legs and in the pure whites, with their suggestion of gymnastics and fencing. Maybe it's his Sydney roots that make the blues of sea and sky his signature shades. Here, they were explored in everything from cotton to cashmere to leather to the same silk/poly jacquard that gave such character to his women's Resort collection. Woven by a company that has existed since the early eighteenth century, it evoked for Nicoll a hint of Regency decadence. So it was typical of him to cut it into sporty shorts and a blouson by way of contrast. If there was a slightly perverse subtext there, then that only helped underline what an utterly natural act of self-expression this collection was for Nicoll.