Backstage before his show, Derek Lam said they've had to reorder the sexy matte jersey dresses from his Fall collection for his new Crosby Street store, so he brought one back for Spring, but in a bright shade of purple. Everything about this collection felt bolder than its predecessor: That has something to do with the places Lam went looking for inspiration—Asbury Park, Rehoboth Beach, and other East Coast summer destinations, rather than the interior of Coco Chanel's Paris flat. "I haven't done full-on color for a while," he said, "and it feels like the right moment now."

It would've been impossible for Lam to know that the subject of next May's Costume Institute exhibition would be the American woman when he started this feel-good, almost downright patriotic collection, but it's a swell coincidence. Channeling the forties by way of the disco era, he showed a sweet little floral-blouse-high-waisted-shorts combo, one great-looking dark denim zip-front jacket, and retro "deck-side" one-pieces (you lounge in them, you don't swim). Stars were everywhere. Small, they looked like polka dots on a belted crepe de chine dress. A bigger multicolor print was used for a sleeveless blouse tucked into corseted trousers. And then there was Lily Donaldson's sundress, patchworked together from black and white poplin: It had a big star front and center. All that was missing was the cotton candy. It was enough to make you nostalgic for a summer by the beach that you never had, and that's the emotional hook that will lure the gals into Lam's store.