Phillip Lim left the West to found 3.1 Phillip Lim in New York, but you get the sense the West never left him. It's there in his groovy, SoCal brand of Zen, and it occasionally bubbles up into his collections, which are often structured around Western archetypes like surfers or easy riders. Today he added cowboys to his pantheon of alterna-heroes.
Of course, the West isn't just a region on a map. Lim, given to lofty pronouncements, was channeling a West of the mind. "It's this territory that shadows the line between vanishing mythology and reality," he said. "The cowboy is its hometown hero."
Lim's collections often ride that same line between mythology and reality that cowboys do. He's fond, especially when show season comes around, of dressing his men both larger and odder than life. But the cowboy theme actually served to ground him. This collection reminded you that Lim's label is built on gussied-up takes on essentially wearable clothes. Playing on Westerniana gave him the opportunity to indulge his decorative and outré side in context. Fall means leather, so there were jodhpur-cut leather lounge pants whose exaggeratedly high cuffs gave them the look of trompe l'oeil boots. Fall also means coats, but in addition to the oversize versions in speckled bouclé, Lim showed shirt-jackets in leather and in jersey: Not a new idea, but one which made good use of the turtleneck layering pieces that have emerged across the shows as a certifiable fall trend-to-be.
Lim laughed at the suggestion that he might be pining for a move back West. He's in New York to stay, he said. But the West brought out good work in him. Even with its occasional thematic groaners, like the horse-print sweatshirts, this lineup seemed like a departure from the past few seasons—less finicky, more relaxed. Lim's icons have often been bad boys, but, he said, the cowboy represented a new tip of the hat to the good guys. "It's a new year," was his perfectly Zen explanation.