Phillip Lim turned 40 this year and threw himself a birthday party in the city where the party's never stopped: Berlin. He was fascinated by the "percolating current of rave culture" there. That culture is super modern—even if rave's first heyday was somewhere circa the nineties—and coexists with Berlin's crumbling stateliness. "They're living in a transitional landscape," he said. You can twist your glow sticks among elegant ruins.

That got the wheels turning. Pre-Fall is a transitional collection, so put the two together and you're off. The collection had the frantic, sometimes messy energy of a party running late. The transitional theme was applied liberally, and often literally: pieces were properly tailored on one side and left raw and ragged on the other. In homage to the splicing of cultures in Berlin, fabrics were spliced together, like cream tailored jackets with slashed-in panels of floral jacquard. A novelty poodle motif, appliquéd on sweatshirts and clutches, was, with energetic illogic, spliced in from somewhere else entirely. (Poodle-grooming contests, Lim revealed: "They're almost vogueing competitions for poodles.")

The mix worked best where the usual Lim hits—side-zipped sweatshirts, leather jogging pants—got a hint (or a hit?) of wildness. The sweatshirts in metallic foil, for instance, or the tops crawling with lichenous tufts of shearling. But in its more literal moments, such as a glow-stick print, the theme weighed down the charm of the collection. It just goes to show, the story of the party is rarely as good as the party itself.