"I'm a happy designer," said Ami's Alexandre Mattiussi, as if his titular offer of friendship weren't tip-off enough. Now in its fourth season, Ami has hewed to its own given mandate of uncomplicated clothes for the designer and his friends, model-agency versions of whom gathered in a lovely garden to both celebrate and demonstrate his new collection. The barbecue had been fired up and the band had been cued. As editors and friends swirled around, it became a little tricky to tell who was modeling and who was merely attending. (Neck tattoos proved a reliable indicator.) In a line of echt reasonableness like Ami, where there's very little styling flourish or volume play to distinguish runway from reality, the line is blurred. "I can't disconnect from my life," Mattiussi shrugged, pointing out favorite pieces, like thin linen Prince of Wales suiting peeking out from under a cotton trench, or the unfussy outerwear in dusty, Cannery Row colors. A new print of the birds of France—wagtail, waxwing, kingfisher, and more—appeared on chinos and blown up onto T-shirts.

It's hard to fault Mattiussi for his close tether to reality. His ambitions, unlike those of his fellow designers, push the boundaries in terms of reach rather than concept. To that end, he confided, he's close to signing a lease on a Paris store, hopefully to open this year. Further than that, who knows? You wouldn't be surprised to see him adapt his process to womenswear, for instance. The ideas practically suggest themselves. A new print, perhaps—the bees to the boys' birds?