It's been a week where the planets well and truly aligned for Richard Nicoll
, first with his Resort collection for women and then, today, with his menswear presentation for Spring. His confidence, optimism, and laser-sharp focus have been inescapable in both instances. Actually, it would be a surprise if this weren't the case, given how closely aligned the two collections were in fabric, in color palette, and in the irresistible clarity of sporty basics given a sophisticated, sexy fillip, which is something of a Nicoll trademark. For his man, that could mean a tee and shorts in a silky python jacquard, or the jumpsuit that is the designer's signature piece toughened up with a black leather waistcoat, or a tweedy "twinset" paired with more of that leather. In his latest collections, Nicoll has certainly been adjusting his claim that he's rarely used black before, but what was striking in his men's show is how he started out on the dark side and moved upward to paler, brighter tones, from shadows into blue sky. Perhaps you could parse that as a tidy analogy for his state of mind.
On the other hand, Nicoll is a longtime connoisseur of those shadows. How many of his collections have been made more substantial—and memorable—by the twisted little subtexts he manages to insert? This latest one was no exception. For several seasons, Nicoll has been collaborating with the artist Linder Sterling on his prints. For his new menswear, she collaged snakes and birds with images of gay porn she found in a Barcelona bookshop. Opulent in style, subversive in substance, the Nicoll/Sterling tie-up yielded the collection's strongest piece: an anorak that reversed from fleshy ambiguity to purest dove gray, arch sensuality versus serene sobriety.