Since catapulting onto the New York scene five seasons ago, Derek Lam has earned himself quite a following for his ability to update and reinterpret classics from other eras. For fall, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist took inspiration from California beach towns in the late sixties—Topanga, Salinas, Carmel—and the artsy magpie style of the locals.

With a "California Dreamin'" cover and a Mercury Rev song borrowed from the Laurel Canyon soundtrack to set the mood, Lam sent out drop-waist silk shirtdresses, grandpa cardigans, prairie skirts, and pleated trousers in "laundered" shades of blue, red, saffron, and brown. Yes, he played with the exaggerated volumes so popular this season—organza slipdresses blossomed at the waist, and models tucked their hands into deep pockets—but his experiments were relaxed and easy, not tricky. Details, many of which looked Spanish colonial and Central American in origin, came in the way of turquoise beading, strappy leather sandals dotted with jewels, and too-familiar blanket wraps.

Not as focused as last season, the collection also seemed unrealistic for residents of colder regions. But that may have been intentional: Lam is a California boy, after all, one who's been known to wear his own sandals well into the New York fall.