The sad news of talented designer Richard Nicoll’s sudden death was a real shock to the industry today. He was just 39.
Despite having stepped out of fashion’s limelight in recent years, he remained a well-respected designer and much-loved personality.
Born in the UK in 1977 but raised in Perth, Australia, he gained a BA in menswear from London’s Central Saint Martins, before switching to womenswear for the university’s celebrated MA Fashion course, graduating in 2002. It is reported that Dolce and Gabbana were so impressed by the young designer’s promising graduate creations that they bought the entire collection.
Remaining in London, Nicoll went on to launch his eponymous brand in 2005, showing at London Fashion Week by the next year.
Beginning with womenswear, he quickly became known for his inventive use of colour, clean tailoring and modern silhouettes, often with a fresh and athletic undertone. Over his decade of fashion week shows, Nicoll became one of the highlights of London’s growing schedule, a prominent name as the city’s fashion week credentials rose. His stockists included Net-a-Porter, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Liberty and Saks Fifth Avenue.
He won the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Forward Award in 2006 and amassed a celebrity following – stars including Anne Hathaway and Sienna Miller wore his relaxed take on event dresses on the red carpet.
His final womenswear collection opened with a magical “Tinker Bell” slip dress created in partnership with Disney. Unexpected as the collaboration might have been, the beautiful dress glittered and twinkled down the catwalk, illuminated with delicately glowing fibre optics – it was a beautiful show that will stay in my memory for a long time.
On the back of his growing success, he launched his first menswear collection to much praise in 2012, converting his signature sleek sportiness to the male wardrobe. Fenwick, MatchesFashion.com and Italy’s 10 Corso Como were stockists. His much-anticipated move into menswear was the hot ticket at that season’s inaugural edition of London Collections Men and I remember running through traffic on The Mall to make it to the catwalk show on time. I was late and had to watch it through a crack in a closed door but it remains my favourite collection of his.
Nicoll made the decision to leave the fashion week schedule and shuttered his label in early 2015, choosing to focus on other projects. These included taking the creative director position at British young fashion brand Jack Wills, where he injected a colourful, fashion-forward element to the range. He left the role in October 2015.
Over his career, Nicoll also worked as creative director for womenswear at Cerruti from 2009 to 2011, consulted for Louis Vuitton under Marc Jacobs, and acted as design director of Fred Perry’s premium womenswear range. He recently moved back to Australia and was reportedly set to join Adidas in a creative director position in January.
A calm character yet colourful talent, Nicoll will be sadly missed.