"Clothes people wear." With that deceptively simple mantra as a guiding principle, Phillip Lim has built an impressive contemporary label that other aspiring young designers might be wise to study. Not only because he does a bang-up business, but specifically because he somehow succeeds in making clothes that look much more expensive than they actually are—not, as is too often the case, the other way around.

With Grey Gardens' Edie Bouvier Beale as inspiration—"pedigree minus prudence," Lim called it backstage—the designer showed his most ambitious collection by far. It opened with a prep schooler's bow-front shirt, plaid skirt, and double-breasted coat and it closed with an ivory debutante dress in laundered silk gazar. In between, Lim perfectly evoked the studied insouciance of the swish set with a short metallic shift over a fitted tee, a white boyfriend blazer worn with a strapless turquoise cocktail dress, and a tough leather jacket topping a pinafore. And even with all those layers, a head-to-toe look could still run less than a blouse on the designer floor.