Richard Nicoll

It’s exciting when a designer takes a massive stride, when everything comes together, when they hit the next level, when you start to write personal orders in your notebook – and run out of space.

This happened tonight at Richard Nicoll.

A minimalist at heart, with a penchant for clean lines, high concepts and luxury sportswear, Nicoll took his thumb-print and made it … better. The collection was more refined, more luxurious, more confident and more succinct. It was as if he’d had one big rethink, or reboot? Even the show notes presented him as NICOLL, not Richard Nicoll, in capitals, as if announcing a new arrival which, in a sense, it was.

He said, backstage that he’d had a ‘brand ethos exercise’ and had come up with some words that perfected what he wanted to do.

Take ‘masculine glamour’, his starting point for the show, neatly conveyed in a cloud-grey coat, jumpsuit, slouch trouser suit and skinny trouser suit. It is so refreshing when a designer has the confidence to serve up proper men’s silhouettes for women without faffing around with bust darts and ‘shaping’. These shapes all looked eminently more sexy with their oversized shoulders and trousers that were loose on the hips and conjured the idea of a woman wearing them who is supremely confident in her own skin.

The fabrics were the really big hit: from the herringbone fur and knitwear to the cashmere tailoring and subtle jacquards, they all looked suitably luxurious. Particularly delicious was the orange angora – one jumper, sleeves nonchalantly pushed up, over a slim sheeny long skirt was effortless eveningwear personified – and the layering of fine shirts under fluffy jumpers, under patent leather jackets looked like a convincing way to wear them.

So how come it all came together now? ‘I’m just really happy and putting a lot of passion into my work,’ he said softly after his show, adding that he had started working on his fabrics much earlier than usual and this had given the collection its extra depth.

However he attained this new level, the challenge now is staying there. But judging by the reaction of his audience, that is not going to be a problem.