Girls on bikes. Of Phillip Lim's satchelful of references for Fall, that was the most interesting. After all, there's something terribly cool about a look that's remarkably stylish, yet not so precious that it'll be compromised by all that pedal-pushing. "It's about these chic women who ride bikes to work, to brunch, to a cocktail party," Lim said backstage before the show. "But how do you make everything functional without sacrificing form?"

His answer was to splice functional-looking athletic and utilitarian elements into a chic fall urbanite wardrobe of cropped pants and smart coats. A navy silk dress took its cues from the classic nylon anorak, and silk jumpsuits had raglan sleeves—leather for day, covered with bobbling bronze beads for evening. And that's OK. But as such, this hybrid look isn't a million miles away from the mixed-up approach other designers have taken in recent seasons. Nevertheless, it yielded some nice pieces—mostly outerwear—like a black bonded-silk utility coat with big patch pockets, a letterman's jacket in curly lamb and leather, and sturdy ribbed cardigans sliced up the side. A white silk dress, modeled after a baseball jersey, with beaded sleeves was unexpectedly simple and lovely.

However, the show wasn't without its moments of awkwardness, particularly in stiff carrot-shaped pants and squared-off culottes, all cut with an extra fold of material pleated onto the front. They were inspired by Lim's visual research of tribes and gangs. (That swirling floral print, by the way, was a nod to Japanese yakuza tattoos.) As Lim explained, cholos buy their pants too big and fold them in to have a heavier stance, something, it's fair to say, no shopping woman ever wants. Who ever said the battle of form and function would be easy?