I am beginning to think that a number of designers must have spent last winter on a beach somewhere. Nicole Miller brings us yet another surf-ready collection, this time taking her references from Rio de Janerio. The colors are bright and cheerful, the style is 100% Nicole Miller.

Where other designers have gone for a lot of sheer and lace, Nicole instead gives us a glorious set of prints that take us where she wants to go while maintaining the carefully refined looks that have made her so very popular. Silhouettes are fitted throughout, especially hugging the curves around the hips. Pencil skirts with ruffles along the hem are plentiful and do a perfect job of giving one that sense of sway and motion that comes from being on the beach.

There are very few solid colored pieces in this collection. Instead, Ms. Miller opts from some very busy and often very colorful prints. The first choice is an exotic floral, resplendent in the two piece ensemble that started the dhow and more subdued as she covered the print with black and white stripes. The other dominant print is more aviary, brightly colored birds on a black silhouette of palm trees. Both come and go throughout the collection mixed with stripes and solids in entertaining fashion.

The prints are important because the looks themselves are pretty much what we expect from Ms. Miller. The closest she comes to sheer are some very narrow panels in one of the skirts, and even there it feels more like an accent than a major feature. What is especially impressive, though, is how she deals with black and white pieces. White silhouetted palm trees on a black background are stunning. Broad striped waves not only reference the ocean but provide a sense of movement especially in some of the knit tops.

What may be most stunning, though, are the applique pieces. Miller starts with pineapples coming down the sleeves of sweaters and then gradually brings a whole flower garden onto the bodice and skirt and even onto the modest  swim suit taking the final spot in the lineup. The detail is exciting.

Nicole’s spring/summer collection is perhaps a little more sporty than normal; there are plenty of bare midriffs and tasteful cutouts to keep things a bit playful. Some of the skirts are certainly shorter than normal, but more the most part almost everything in the collection can be easily adapted so as to be office appropriate. Yet, the wedge heels are probably the biggest giveaway to just how sensible the Nicole Miller woman is. While she may cut loose occasionally on vacation, she never drinks too much, never gets out of control and never loses her decorum. This is a very sensible collection for very sensible people.

And this collection proves that sensible people can have fun, too.

Photo credit: Valerio Mezzanotti

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