Black leather and bikers go together like horse and carriage (or car and driver?), but Phillip Lim's dark, funkified take on "café racer" chic veered off in its own direction. "I'm feeling this whole genre," Lim said of biker style, which he also channeled for his women's pre-collection. "It was how to make that genre not so literal, not so aggressive, not so one-sided."
His solution was to make it rootsy. His bikers wore leather pants that slouched and rode high on the ankle. Their dungarees bore the stamp of foreign travel: They came lavishly, if graphically, embroidered. So did a leather moto jacket stitched over with white stripes. The camo print resembled ikat. Wherever they'd been, his racers brought back the stamp of other lands. "I always call it Escape From Bourgeoisie Island," Lim said with a laugh. "The one who got away returns." Even the title hinted at the distance and the difference: Sonomama, Japanese for "as you are."
A Phillip Lim collection has wheat and it has chaff. That's as they are. This one was no exception. But it held together better than some other recent outings, thanks to appealing individual pieces—key among them, a side-zipping sweatshirt in bonded leather, the brother to one in the women's collection, and a series of patchworked outerwear—and to the unifying power of black leather. What might have jarred gelled when kept confined to graphic black.