With the adult-size accomplishments—the booming international business, the Paris presentations—it's easy to forget that, at base, Phillip Lim is a young man designing for young men. It's a point Lim's reiterated time and again, but his clothes occasionally tell a different story. They sometimes aim for a kind of exquisiteness, and stumble a bit when they do. But for his latest collection, Lim celebrated the young and the grungy unapologetically, and carried off a presentation with a winning energy and zest, and not just because he used an icy yellow he's dubbed "lemonata."
Skaterdom—the kind he witnessed firsthand growing up in Huntington Beach, California—provided the inspiration. He spoke of admiring skate punks for their whatever-works attitude toward dressing. It's one shared, in large part, by the droves of male models making their way through Paris this week—and, food for thought, the skateboard is their preferred mode of transport, too. Arrayed in a garage (just the sort of place, no coincidence, where board types would whip down the ramps and grind on the railings), Lim's guys had that insouciance, without some of the fussiness that's held his menswear back a bit in seasons past. There were plenty of opportunities for the designer to flex his token fancies—the ombré jeans, the mirror-ized boots, the jumpsuits—but also pieces here that reflected the slouch and sloth of teen-boy wardrobing, and (the best part) more than a few pieces that hit a happy medium. The wide-leg, acid-washed denim drawstring pants (in a color a young punk might affectionately call "snot") may be a hard proposition for the over-30s. But a chintz-ed silk trench, sporty enough to go over them and light as a feather, had the mix of elegance and edginess that lifted this collection off the ground.