The elaborate blond wood Moorish arches at the mouth of the runway were an obvious clue that Phillip Lim was about to hitch a ride onto a Spanish caravan for Spring. Far from rehashing flamenco skirts, the designer extracted a few choice motifs from his Andalusian inspiration. Foremost was the ruffle, which fluttered on the back flaps of chiffon trenchcoats and wobbled in tightly mashed form atop the bright Christian Louboutin pumps, but most often it came slightly flattened and unevenly tiered on the hems of garçon jackets and knit dresses. There was also a flash of mantilla fringe, and dresses and coats with the geometric echo of those mosques-turned-cathedrals.
When it comes to his ever-growing business, however, Lim's focus goes beyond Iberia to the global front. And it's that international market's demand for more fashion ("they want the crazy," he said, a few days before the show) that encouraged him to be in experimental mode. But Lim's version of Direction for the Massesheightened by skewed-bun hairdos and kooky double-loop belts in which many saw strains of Viktor & Rolfwas a bit overdone. There are undeniably great pieces in this collection, but Lim occupies a strange orbit in the fashion universe as the contemporary designer who garners attention equal to his higher-priced counterparts. Now that everyone's listening, sending a cohesive message of brand identity may be the next step.