Richard Nicoll tried his hardest to coat his Spring collection in ice, from the soundtrack featuring Nico's "Frozen Warnings"; to the chill palette of black, white, silver, and pink; to wintry fabric references like the houndstooth pattern that was embroidered or sequined onto sheer white tops. Moral of this particular story: Nicoll is his own worst advertisement. His collection was cool, not cold. It's exactly ten years since he launched his women's collection, and it's taken him that long to settle into the confident groove that defined today's show. The obvious rationale is that the launch of his men's collection has helped Nicoll define what he stands for as a designer, but that may be a little too pat when applied to his latest offering. It's more relevant to conclude that he has finally isolated his own sweet commercial spot. Because that's what we saw today: salability with avant-garde sass.

One funny little sidebar in New York fashion week was the 1920s/2020s time warp. Nicoll flew the flag for the same notion here. Drop-waisted layers suggested pre-flapper Chanel; the way that different-sized stripes were juxtaposed hinted at an urban geometry (the designer cited the sixties pics of photographer Garry Winogrand); and the sheerness that Nicoll layered over everything had a sci-fi quality. But in the end, it might have been an op-art graphicism that had the most appeal: A black-piped white sheath and its reverse were clean, clear expressions of the Nicoll aesthetic. There was a time when a decadent undertow sucked his collections sideways. He still pays lip service to that time, but reality has dictated something more pragmatic—and ultimately appealing.