It's always a bit of a nightmare, queueing for shows with other journalists - the pressure of that seemingly benign but in fact highly confrontational question: "so...what have you liked so far?". Last night, answering it was easy. I liked, no I really liked Richard Nicoll. Showing at the Topshop space in Bloomsbury Square yesterday afternoon, the Australian designer distilled many recognisable aspects of his previous collections -the precise shirts, the drape-front dresses, twists in the fabric, low-slung trousers, lamé blouses- into something surprising, disciplined and so far from the 1980s club and bodycon referencing we have been seeing elsewhere as to represent something genuinely new.
The opening section of slightly geometric, Japanesey couture shapes rendered in stiff, white organza was a compelling essay in translucency and the lightest layering. An elegant twist on the classic 90s styling trope of 'white t-shirt under dress', Nicoll showed fine organdy T-shirts over bra tops and halter necks. In addition to easy-wearing separates, there were some charming, sleeveless coat dresses teamed with Amish-looking 'bee-keeper' hats and then some artfully restrained Grecian pleating and twisting in the minimal dresses to close. The only thing missing was the designer's trademark, cheery runaround on the catwalk at the end of the performance - he certainly deserved his lap of honour.