It’s a bit risky for a fashion designer to invoke Marie Kondo as inspiration. After all, the zeitgeist-y Japanese tidying expert advises avoiding anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” which goes for what’s already in your closet as well as what you might be considering buying and putting there.
But Phillip Lim is up for the challenge. After nearly 15 years in business, he’s in self-reflection mode. “My business partner, Wen, her kids are growing up; the news, the political situation, the challenges the industry is facing, we decided it was time to question ourselves,” he said before his fall show. “We thought, ‘How can we spark joy like Marie Kondo?’ and decided it was by returning to a place where we’re creating solid, stable, tangible clothes.”
It started with a new brand commitment to sustainability, including an alliance with the Woolmark Co. to produce about 60 percent of the collection in natural fibers and the rest in recycled materials, as well as eliminating all fur and exotic skins from production starting this season, and using only leather and shearling that are byproducts of the meat industry.
“We’ve always been pretty sustainable, frugal and practical, but we decided to do it with more intention and purpose,” Lim explained, noting that his mission extended to partner brands for the show, Aveda and Unframe the Beauty. “It’s about doing small things to add up to an adjusted culture.”
On the runway, that translated into a range of sturdy-chic wardrobe building blocks, mostly in black, white, navy and olive drab, that should appeal to the old Celine customer on a smaller budget. Lim zeroed in on utilitarian tailoring, playing with proportion and volume, layering double-faced wool capes, cocoon coats or belted utility jackets over wide-leg trousers, cargo pants or long, sweeping skirts.
He delved into the leather dressing trend that’s emerging for the season, showing a buttery black full skirt with oversize cocoon sweater, and trousers with a corset-waist blouson top. An ankle-sweeping white maxidress, and an off-the-shoulder asymmetrical black top belted over fluid pants were solid evening options. Contrast top-stitching, (faux) animal patterns, ankle-strap shoes, cinched booties and one pair of seriously quirky-cool furry flats added dashes of panache.
He closed with a snuggly recycled fleece cocoon jacket over a sweeping black skirt that was an unabashed high-fashion ode to outdoor clothing purveyor Patagonia and another man on a mission, its founder Yvon Chouinard. Lim offered his own joyful wish, “What I really want to do is work with them.”