Humility is a word not frequently heard in fashion’s upper circles, but that’s exactly what Richard Nicoll is striving for with his first women’s wear collection for Cerruti.

“It’s about simple pieces with sensitivity and romance, as opposed to minimal and sterile,” the British-born, Australian-raised designer said during a fitting at the company’s headquarters. A 2002 graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, Nicoll freelanced for Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton before striking out on his own in 2005, rapidly winning fans from Kylie Minogue to Sofia Coppola with his oversize T-shirts and sculptural shirts.

The designer cemented his status as one of the stars of London Fashion Week with the fall collection for his namesake label, which featured soft tailoring inspired by his own a masculine wardrobe.

He hopes to bring the same grounded approach to Cerruti, which is returning to the women’s catwalk after an eight-year absence. “I think we’re lacking things that are easy to wear, but also joyful and luxurious,” he said.

Nicoll is offering jabot-accented dresses in wearable grays, powdery pink, khaki and blue. These will be offset by charged ikat-style prints overlaid with fine diagonal stripes or tiny dots. “It’s playing with bourgeois French sartorial codes and giving it a new spin,” he explained. That should come as welcome news to the legions of women who are embracing fashion’s new trend for confident, wearable clothes. “It’s the perfect timing for Cerruti to be relaunching, because that’s what it’s been synonymous with, historically.”

— Joelle Diderich


Following a three-year hiatus, which included a spell as artistic director of Cerruti and the introduction of a capsule men’s line that has just entered stores, Nicolas Andreas Taralis is back, with a show for women’s and men’s collections scheduled for March 2 at the Palais de Tokyo.

Known for mixing sharp, androgynous tailoring with a rock ’n’ roll attitude, Canadian-born Taralis sees his comeback as an organic evolution from where he left off. “I’m trying to bring something into it that’s new, a softer touch,” said the designer, whose beautifully constructed artisanal collection centers on wardrobe staples with subtle twists. A crisp white shirt, for instance, bears side panels echoing a jacket’s construction, while washed raw-denim jeans sport side zippers and a hook-and-button closure. Outerwear ranges from a structured cotton moleskin coat to a gently battered leather jacket with a vintage feel.

— Katya Foreman


“She’s a very proud and strong character. I had this idea of a priestess,” said Damir Doma, who will present his first women’s collection on March 3 at the Lycée Henri IV.

Already a hot ticket in men’s wear, Doma last year generated sales of around 3.5 million euros, or $4.9 million at average exchange. His collection is distributed in 150 doors worldwide.

Carrying the same flavor as his men’s wear — think timeless, sacred clothes for the modern monk — for his women, Doma used new lines, volumes and proportions to spin a resolutely feminine allure on his vision. And, he says, each universe will have a distinct personality. Highlights include elegant but edgy sleeveless wool jumpsuits, long tailored jackets with defined shoulders, chunky knitwear and floor-length dresses with twisted volumes at the back. “It’s about creating a tension between something fluid and the strict and long,” said Doma.

— K.F.

Reactivity is a strong point for buzzy French designer Maxime Simoens, 25, who, since showing at the Hyeres fashion festival last spring, is already sold in 20 boutiques, including Maria Luisa in Paris, White Room in Tokyo and Ursula B in Montreal.

The business-savvy designer, who counts Melanie Laurent among fans — the actress wore a gold and silver sequin-embroidered bustier dress by Simoens to the Sidaction AIDS gala in Paris in January — said his aim is to deliver strong, feminine pieces at reasonable prices, starting at around 200 euros, or $270 at current exchange.

His second collection, focused on structured daywear elements and graphic cocktail wear with glitzy embellishment, trips across the 20th century, from an Art Deco-inspired embroidered black shift dress to a Paco Rabanne-style chain mail number. He shows March 8 at David Mallett Salon, 14 Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 2nd.

— K.F.

Canadian textile design whiz Calla Haynes, 29, will present the second collection under her women’s wear label, Calla, from March 6 to 12 at the Galerie France Fiction in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement. Haynes, who spent five years working alongside Olivier Theyskens at Rochas and Nina Ricci, is offering modern pajama pants in moiré-effect silk handwoven in Uzbekistan, a body-conscious printed jersey group and patchwork jackets. Haynes plays on proportions — pairing an oversize shirt with volume at the elbow with a skinny pant, say, or a pencil skirt with an airy chiffon blouse. She developed five different prints on fabrics ranging from viscose jersey to jacquards and quilting embroideries for the collection.

— K.F.


Since winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Hyères Festival in 2006, Anthony Vaccarello, 30, has spent two years working in Fendi’s fur department and designed capsule collections for Maria Luisa in Paris and Joyce in Hong Kong. This season, the designer is striding out with a tight commercial line of graphic lingerie-inspired bodysuits, frocks and sweater dresses, paired with coats or masculine jackets. Vaccarello contrasts textures with transparency, mixing velvet and veils assembled by embroidery stitches to create armorlike geometric panels. He describes the look as “Art Deco meets ‘Metropolis.’” He shows at Paris’ Joyce Gallery on March 2.

— K.F.


Paris-based corsetry specialist Linda Vongdara has produced her first women’s wear collection, loosely inspired by fetishism. The result, to be presented March 3 to 11 at 88 Rue de Provence in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, is decidedly not S&M, however. A charming sailor coat piped with red ribbons innocently acknowledges Vongdara’s fascination with uniforms, as do colored wool capes. Among harder pieces are rock ’n’ roll boned leather bustier dresses and corsets. Softer velvet dresses and artisanal alpaca wool accessories are also on offer. Prices for the collection, which is made in France, range from around 100 euros, or $140, for a T-shirt, to 1,000 euros, or $1,400 for a coat.

— K.F.


Fake London is making a comeback. The label, based in the British capital, was founded by Desiree Mejer in 1997 but closed in 2006. Now, it’s returning in a licensing partnership with the Italian manufacturing and distribution firm Italservices SpA. Mejer has designed a quirky collection filled with denim, tweed cashmere, and fake fur. The fall line includes pieces such as a hooded cape in brown check wool lined with a silver nylon windcheater, a denim jacket embellished with vintage leather braces and dark blue jeans with a subtle skeleton design sprayed onto the legs. Totes in butter-soft leather are printed with the words “Buy British,” and are designed to look like grocery store bags.

To celebrate the relaunch, Mejer’s pal Damien Hirst designed a series of Fake London “spin” paintings, which will be on display at the label’s Paris showroom, March 1 to 11. Retail prices for the collection range from 36 euros, or $55, for a T-shirt to 420 euros, or $650, for a parka.

— Nina Jones

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