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Richard Nicoll

The womenswear designer’s spring 11 collection targets a more mature customer with grown-up glamour and sophisticated styling.

Fresh from showing an acclaimed, grown-up and commercial spring 11 collection at London Fashion Week, designer Richard Nicoll is enjoying his most successful season with his eponymous womenswear range.

Sales for his spring 11 pre-collection were up 25% on autumn 10 - they have risen every season since the label’s launch. Last week, Nicoll showed a collection focused on layers of gauzy, transparent chiffon, with dresses key - from silk crêpe cape dresses to pleated minidresses worn over maxi skirts. “It’s buyers who are requesting more dresses,” he explains. “Current fashion trends are supposedly towards separates but it doesn’t seem to have filtered down to the consumer.”

Aiming higher

Buyers have also encouraged Nicoll to raise his exit price points, he says, but he insists prices in general haven’t gone up, with the label’s average wholesale price at £250. “The department stores have told me [the prices] are too reasonable, so evening dresses will allow us to increase prices and hopefully sit alongside more international labels like Marc Jacobs and Celine,” he adds, saying that currently the label is on a par with the likes of Erdem and Peter Pilotto in terms of how it’s merchandised in stores. At the moment the highest retail price point is about £1,500, but Nicoll says he is looking to increase it to £2,000.

Nicoll also plans to elevate the label’s status with a more grown-up collection for spring 11, which features a predominantly monochrome palette and targets a slightly older customer. “I wanted to create a [collection of] minimalist glamour that feels relevant to what’s going on in the world,” he says, referring to cautious consumer spending and the trend for buying long-lasting investment pieces.

“The monochrome palette feels intelligent, too. But we’ll look at the collection after the [LFW] show and maybe introduce more separates [for commercial appeal]. Traditionally, our customer has been between 20 and 35, but we’d like to go up to 55 because they have more spending power. Plus, I’m growing up; it’s what I naturally feel like doing.”

As well as dresses, Nicoll showed bodice tops and tunics with transparent panels at LFW. Jackets were lightweight and gauzy or came with capped sleeves - a micro trend at LFW - and were sometimes paired with high-waisted, wide-leg trousers. The collection as a whole, which features about 40 to 50 pieces, was inspired by The Thin White Duke, the persona singer David Bowie assumed for his Station to Station album in 1976, a decade that proved a popular inspiration for designers at New York Fashion Week the previous week. The album provided the soundtrack to the show.

In the long term, Nicoll plans to diversify into different categories including accessories. But while he’d like to increase his stockist base - he currently has about 48 globally including Harvey Nichols and Browns in the UK - his focus is on increasing orders with existing retailers. “I would also love to find the right investor to help grow the business,” he says. Based on the label’s balance of creativity and commercialism, Richard Nicoll could be just the ticket for the right investor.

Richard Nicoll 020 7684 2184

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