He's a designer who often dismisses his clothes with an offhand, "It's just pretty. It's not trying to be anything." But a few days before his Fall show, it was obvious that Phillip Lim had a lot on his mindfrom the tanking economy's effect on both the world at large and his own expanding business to the growing up he's done personally as a designer to, oh, Stevie Nicks and David Bowie.
Boil it all down and Lim's major impetus was maturity, his own and his customers'. That was clear from the first look out, a suede duster over a silk blouse and a midcalf skirt that looked a bit dowdy. But variety is the beauty of 3.1, and one of the reasons it's a retail darling: Stores and girls can buy it and wear it their way. So, amid the more staid fare (a thin gray V-neck sweater over gray flannels, or ladylike matelassé coats and dresses), Lim kicked up the cool factor with a tiny leather flight jacket (worn with an urban-bohemian maxidress) and what he calls "the new power suit": a black denim boyfriend blazer over terrific matching wide-leg jeans. There were several great dresses and great coats, too. Soon, 3.1 boutiques will be opening in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and shoppers will easily find what they came for.