There are clothes that look good, and then there are clothes that feel good. Peter Som, a 31-year-old designer who has logged time at Calvin Klein, Bill Blass and Michael Kors, believes those two notions are fully compatible. And his spring collection was a compelling argument in support of that belief.

Som was inspired by Jacques-Henri Lartigue's photos of the French Riviera between the wars; think romantic walks on the beach, kirs at sunset, smoky jazz clubs. Updating that ideal to suit the practical needs of the twenty-first st-century American consumer, he used sunny striped silk in slim pajama pants and blouses, black and cream canvas in squared-off jackets and Mediterranean-blue lamb suede for a luxurious slipdress. Som kept the shapes simple, adding originality via details like channel stitching, asymmetrical hems on skirts and distinctive color combinations like deep blue and chocolate brown. With one clunky exception—a series of cotton canvas gauchos—this was a collection with appeal for elegant women of any era.