Just two hours before a crowd swarmed Bryant Park in anticipation of Tommy Hilfiger
's Spring show, you could see a similar crush outside his new Fifth Avenue flagship. And inside the massive 22,000-square-foot space, partygoers packed every one of its four floors and lined the winding, sculptural white staircase. In the midst of it stood Hilfiger, happily receiving a stream of friends, celebs, and industry VIPs. "It's a pinnacle," he said of the opening. "A dream come true—one that I've had for 25 years." The designer pointed out that his peers had all set up shop an avenue eastward. "Donna, Ralph, Calvin, Oscar, Michael? They're all on Madison," he added. Interesting. Well, certainly Hilfiger is American enough to raise the flag solo on Fifth. And a short while later he proved it in chic spades with an energetic and fresh-scrubbed collection, named Beachside Romp, that was meant to evoke a SoCal boardwalk but could indeed play anywhere. There was lots of smart tailoring in a nautical palette of navy and white with gold buttons. Classic, yes, but also refined and not without the occasional twist in the form of big gold grommets on a trenchdress, or the khaki jodhpurs and desert boot-sandals that a fashion girl might adore. That crispness was set off by what Hilfiger called a "relaxed glamour"—quite lovely in the fluid tonal look that opened the show, and also in a lipstick-red jersey gown. Perhaps too relaxed, however, were the very short, strapless silk dresses that were corseted but had the look of a post-shower towel. They certainly felt beachside, though perhaps not in the way intended.