"My grandmother on MDMA at Coachella." With an inspiration like that, Alexander Lewis was either going to go badly wrong or get something extremely right with his latest collection. Net-a-Porter thought "right," apparently—the label-making e-tailer picked up Lewis this season.
Not that the endorsement was necessary to see that Lewis had taken things up a notch this time out. The grandma/Coachella theme wasn't random, in fact, but canny: Before Palm Springs' environs were known for hosting America's premier music festival-cum-temporary hipster encampment, they were famed as the home of well-heeled retirees with a penchant for pastels and afternoons on the links. Lewis, who actually has a grandmother in Palm Springs, lasered in on the golf courses, translating a bird's-eye view of sand traps and greens into marbled jacquard and fine crystal-studded embroidery. Then he got all hallucinogenic, blowing up the pattern into undulating shapes patchworked into skirts, tops, and dresses. One iteration of that idea was a seafoam-green tank dress featuring the designer's signature curved hem, which was inset with a globule of matching metallic organza. Trippy. (Lewis topped the look with a coordinating crocheted cardigan—très granny.) Where he really scored, though, was with his lightweight leather, a new material for him, and the super-clever cotton jacquards that simulated denim. That fabric, Lewis explained, was cooler to wear and more pliable than actual denim, which made it something of a life hack for women—granny or hipster—planning a trip to the desert.