Richard Nicoll is a fantastic London based designer who is known for his sporty yet very desirable clothes – after all, what girl doesn’t want to be able to move around, unrestricted while feeling comfortable and looking colourful and very cool? This season he presented an upliftingly fresh summer collection, that had Grazia’s fashion editors raving about his skill and affinity with colour and texture. With a bit of help from his sponsors, Vodafone, We caught up with him when the dust had settled on fashion week to ask him what inspired the looks, who he turns to for advice, and what the Dickens he’d been watching TV and film-wise to conceive this collection. It turns out the friendly Aussie designer has a darker side to him than we’d expected!
Grazia Daily: We wanted to ask you about the dreamy selection of blues you used. Someone said it was called Laura Palmer blue after the character in Twin Peaks . . . can you talk a little bit about this?
Richard Nicoll: Sure. The blues of the collection were subtly different tones of icy blue. I wanted to create a sense of calm and a reduced version of baby doll blue. I was watching Twin Peaks again on the plane back from Australia at the beginning of the year and I wanted the collection to have a slightly disturbed Lynch-ian quality to cut through the saccharin elements of the baby doll references. I thought Laura Palmer's corpse was the perfect shade of blue (especially her lips) to reference for that. A disturbed sense of calm.
GD: How would you describe the other colours in this collection?
RN: The colours in the collection were a mixture of energetic sporty tones of cornflower blue and aqua juxtaposed with calming tones of dove grey and the icy blues mixed with romantic shades of candy pink. I wanted to create a modern version of traditional 60-s baby doll/pyjama colours.
GD: The music in your show was great. What was it and how does music form part of your creative process? What do you have on the stereo in your studio?
RN: In the studio I play lots of different types of music in the day, to pick up energy or calm things down. it's like a DJ set throughout the day.
For the show it was a mixture of ‘60s Phil Spector Wall Of Sound produced music, such as The Shirelles mixed with new psychedelic rock from Australia, (Tame Impala) and dreamy sequences from Roy Orbison and The Flamingos. The music is crucial in creating the mood for the collection and illustrating reference points.
GD: You’re often associated with quite sporty, functional design, would you agree you have gone a bit softer, more romantic and feminine for this collection?
RN: This collection was something of a retrospective so it included sporty, architectural and constructed lingerie elements as well as new, softer elements which is what I'm feeling now. It was Cardin meets Poiret meets Ungaro.
GD: Film influences – you quoted ‘Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unfinished 1966 Masterpiece L’Enfer.’ Can you tell us a bit about the film and how it inspired you?
RN: Google it and watch it!
GD: Little shorts, pyjamas, tunic t-shirts . . . do you do market research or find out from girls you know about what they want to wear? Or is your process more theoretical?
RN: I have lots of females friends and I listen to them and their opinion, I think I am understanding more and more what women want but it has to gel with what I want too. So it's a compromise of both perspectives, architecture meets reality. The wearable things are what I would want to wear if I was a woman.
GD: This season instead of graphic prints, you played with texture and colour. How many different fabrics have been used? Some of the pieces were sort of shimmery and wet-look, what is this? Can you give us a run-down of the fabrics that are unusual?
RN: We used print this season, subtle psychedelic florals designed by my friend Meera Sleight, We were thinking Wedgewood meets hallucinogens and Linder did a beautiful baby doll collage print also that we veiled in georgette and organza.
We wove our own Art Nouveau Jacquards with Dash and Miller that we copied from a vintage 20's robe I bought from Virginia Bates and we also used plastics, neoprene and lurex lace from Sophie Hallette and lurex knit care of our in house knitter Fran.
GD: Because you’re from Australia and London, what is your concept of summer? We looked at your stockist list and your stocked all over the world! How does this affect the design process, do you make sure you have different options for different markets?
RN: I don't design specifically with summer in mind but I have an innate understanding of that season because of my upbringing, I moved to Australia at 3 years old having lived and being born in London before that.
The regions that we sell best in are Europe and the Middle East. Of course I make sure there are enough options for all territories in the showroom and represented more theoretically on the catwalk.
GD: We hear you are working with Vodafone, indeed they supported your show today, what does the partnership entail?
RN: It means that we can organically develop some innovative mobile phone technology and bring the future to the label next season. Thanks Vodafone!
GD: How long are you partnering with Vodafone for? Will you be designing something special for them?
RN: The current contract is 2 seasons but I hope the partnership continues beyond that. I am working closely with the Vodafone innovation team and yes we are in the process of product development, designing an accessory that fuses technology with design for next season's show.
GD: How important do you think technology is to the fashion industry?
RN: I think it is crucial, it's the only way to do something new that has never been done before.
Thank you very much Richard!
-Interview by Naomi Attwood