Spending 20 minutes in a room alone with a designer talking about his collection instead of eight minutes watching it in a crowd before rushing for the door can be quite daunting. Because should it suck, hard, what to do? Obfuscate to his face, of course—call it “interesting” or boom “You’ve done it again!”—then rush for the door and work out your conscience via keyboard. Phillip Lim went showroom this season. No obfuscation called for: It was good. Although that Marlon Brando leather cap, Lim’s own, felt a misdirected addition to the lookbook shoot.
“Would you wear this?” the designer asked, holding up a field coat fronted in houndstooth, lined with mesh, and backed with a crocheted illustration of a Ukiyo-e bathing beauty. The answer was “sure”—with the caveat that it’d more likely be the blue version with crocheted pockets. Lim was very concerned with giving his work a context. Sweetly, he’d imported his own Danish love seat reupholstered with tiger print from New York, plus a hamburger side table and a stuffed circular pillow coated in red vinyl that looked a little unwholesome—he reported that French customs were so into it they gave it a lengthy internal examination. There was even a goldfish, French, on Lim’s mise-en-scène coffee table (he gifted it to one of the models to help him launch a social media profile after the presentation).
Looks do furnish a room, and those on display in this one included some great pieces. A shirting–biker jacket hybrid was a brilliant layering base. The shape of a conventional shirt says the wearer is just that; this performed the same function with a bit of easy-to-recognize edge. Those considered mishmash field jackets were lovable. Some plain-ish piped silk basketball shorts (and a matching souvenir jacket) that could be reversed into leopard-print fabulousness had a satisfyingly sensual binary appeal to them. The speckled-wool car coats and leopard jacquard topcoats were more firmly either one way or the other. Lim’s wool track pants, treated poplin pajama jumpsuit, nylon leopard robe-jackets, and green zipped flight suit were all studiously mustered variations on the multilayered, utility-based, decoratively promiscuous aesthetic that Lim, furniture and all, epitomizes.