Adam Kimmel's fascination with the style of New York's art-world scenesters in the fifties lighted on a new cast of characters for spring, including Larry Rivers and the rough-'n'-tumbler Neal Cassady. The era seems to represent an ideal of uncompromising—and uncompromised—masculinity for Kimmel and his peers, and he has responded to it by evolving an aesthetic of "real man" dressing. Even its most formal elements have a proletarian unfussiness. What was added this season was elegance. Credit Kimmel's new Italian manufacturer for the finesse of the suits and jackets, including a three-piece tux whose sleekness was radical in the light of the designer's past collections—but that's only because he excels at clothing that's rooted in the salt of the earth.

The best pieces in his new collection were still the ones where form followed function: a jean jacket in white twill, an artist's work coat in blue linen, a waterproofed flight jacket, summer shirts in a plain check Kimmel called "napkin." The shades of chambray that dominated the color scheme compounded the utilitarian quotient in, for example, his signature piece, the ultrafunctional jumpsuit, which he showed either hooded or buttoned-down. And Cassady, who once worked on the railroad, provided inspiration for a standout "railroad" shirt, again in the chambray or a Casey Jones stripe. Where once he had the tentativeness of the tyro, Kimmel now has the confidence to stretch himself. Hence a cashmere group (a long-sleeved polo with shirt cuffs seemed like a good idea), and jackets tailored from a waffle-textured fabric Kimmel developed from a fifties scarf. "Fantasy rooted in a masculine context," is how the designer described them.