SYDNEY — Plans for a memorial service for Richard Nicoll were still being finalized Sunday following the designer’s sudden death from a heart attack here at age 39.
Nicoll reportedly was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent’s Hospital from his Kings Cross, Sydney, apartment in the early hours of Friday morning.
Nicoll is survived by his parents and sister.
“We are terrifically saddened by this news,” said Australian Wool innovation chief executive officer Stuart McCullough. “He was a great contributor to the improvement of wool’s reputation, both in Australia and abroad. We send our condolences to his family and friends.”
“We are all deeply saddened by the news that the wonderful, kind-hearted and talented Richard Nicoll passed away. He had been part of Newgen, Fashion Forward, shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund and BFC/GQ Menswear Fund, and showed both at London Fashion Week and the first few editions of London Collections Men. He had many friends here and in the British fashion community and he will be truly missed,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council.
Fabio Piras, Central Saint Martins MA course director, said: “It is with immense sadness that I heard the news this morning of Richard’s passing. My thoughts are with him and with his family and many friends. Richard will be remembered as both a very talented designer and a charming and elegant human being. I knew him first as a kind-hearted, sensitive and gifted student, and he took these qualities with him throughout his successful design career. Richard was one of these special alumni who touched and inspired his fellow students. He showed them that to find an original and audible voice you do not necessarily have to shout. He will be greatly missed.”
“Richard Nicoll was a perceptive and extremely sensitive designer. He was versatile and had the most acutely honed sensibility for color of all the designers of his generation,” continued Willie Walters, Central Saint Martins BA fashion course director. “As an individual he was reserved and wore his talent lightly. He was thoughtful and had a great sense of humor. I am very saddened and shocked by his sudden death. It is difficult to believe he is gone.”
“I collaborated a lot with him,” said former Vogue Australia editor in chief Kirstie Clements. “I remember going to see his first Cerruti show. I was seated next to his family and everybody was so excited. He was super talented. I saw him recently, and he was really happy to be home and beginning a new chapter in his life. That’s really sad,” she added, of his passing.
“Richard was one of the quiet stars of fashion. He was a true gentleman, a wonderful friend and a much-loved son,” wrote his family in a statement. “Anyone that had the privilege of knowing him knew that he had a heart of gold, an innate kindness, and a modesty and humility that sometimes didn’t allow him to acknowledge his own exceptional creative talent.
“He loved his life in Australia,” the Nicoll family continued. “He had recently confirmed a new role at Adidas and a collaboration with Woolmark, both of which he was excited about. We will miss his handsome face, his sense of humor and his love.”
An Adidas spokeswoman confirmed Nicoll was preparing to assume a leading creative role at the company’s headquarters. “Adidas is deeply saddened to hear the terrible news about Richard Nicoll,” the company said in a statement. “He was an incredibly talented individual, and we felt honored that he would be joining our team in January. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Born in London in 1977, the designer moved to Perth with his family at the age of three, departing again for the U.K. 14 years later.
He graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2002 with a BA in men’s wear and an MA in women’s wear, and established his women’s wear label in London in 2005, debuting at London Fashion Week the following year. In 2008, Nicoll won three Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode prizes and took the Best Young Designer category at the Elle Style Awards in 2009. He was a two-time British Fashion Council Vogue Fashion Fund finalist.
Nicoll was the creative director of Cerruti’s women’s wear label from 2009 to 2011. Between February 2014 and October 2015, he served as creative director of British clothing brand Jack Wills.
Nicoll closed his own label in late 2014 to focus on freelance projects under the Nicoll Inc. brand name. Projects included a Sydney-based surfwear brand called Double Rainbouu in collaboration with Toby Jones and Mikey Nolan, which was unveiled off-schedule during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in May.
Nicoll’s last social media commentary was a series of “Throwback Thursday” postings on his private Instagram account one week ago – three photos of what would be his final collection, for spring 2015, including the glow-in-the-dark fiber optic “Tinker Bell” dress that was produced in collaboration with show sponsor Disney.
“I launched my label 12 years ago and it was obviously a very, very different environment economically and commercially,” he told WWD in July at the International Woolmark Prize 2016-17 regional finals in Sydney, at which he was a guest judge.
“I was able to ride this wave of Central Saint Martins graduates and there was a sort of celebration of pure creativity at the time. And I think what’s different now is that the designers need to be very, very mindful of price point and margin, and there’s not really the room to be sort of particularly free with creativity, if it’s not sort of backed with commercialism,” he said. “To start now you have to have a pretty solid commercial foundation and thick skin, I guess.”