Many designers create inspiration boards at show time, often including photographs of women, typically well-known style stars, present and past. A board in Adam Lippes’ design studio holds photos of six women — top clients of the paying kind. Whenever he wonders during his design process whether a particular look should make the cut in a given collection, he glances at the board. “If I can’t see one of those women wearing it, then I question whether we should do it,” he said during the informal showing of his fall collection. At times, he may decide that the look is worth challenging the customer, so he’ll answer himself with a yes. But consideration of her is always front and center — along with how best to scale his business while remaining profitable, which it is.
To the second point, Lippes takes a conservative approach to showing his collections, typically doing so at home on Saturday mornings during NYFW in intimate conversation-and-clothes sessions. This season, that meant a trip to Brooklyn, where he recently moved into an apartment in an 1850s mansion in Brooklyn Heights. Glorious, yes, with spectacular water views, if a little cramped, though not too cramped for guests to register the intelligent beauty of the clothes. Lippes continued with pre-fall’s inspiration — the home decorating firm Studio Peregalli. But there was no tufted-upholstery heaviness here. Rather, he achieved a light aura, even with substantial fall fabrics, and in a tight lineup, he offered plenty of range. On the sporty side, a suit in plaid/loden double-face featured a great new pant— cropped stovepipe, the hem vented in front. This was worn with a feather-weight lavender sweater. Such knits were done in collaboration with a Madagascan knitter who established a studio to teach crafts in support of an orphanage. The same studio created Peregalli-inspired embroideries, including those on a red organza dress worn under a sturdy paisley jacquard top with an arresting textural play. Another such contrast: a hooded coat, unconstructed but lean, in a luxe herringbone developed with Loro Piana, worn over a delicate dotted net shirtdress.
Lippes loves a relaxed dress, whether in pale charmeuse with balloon sleeves or pink silk with box-pleated skirt worn under a sleeveless, back-buttoned maroon sweater. That sense of ease continued into evening with the high-impact understatement of a fluid crepe jumpsuit and a mega-volume cutaway trapeze gown, ethereal in mauve taffeta.
These are clothes for women who believe in getting dressed, adult clothes, yet with zero lady-fied baggage. They make a powerful case for the modernity of dressing with panache. Surely Lippes’ ladies — the six on his picture board and many more — will approve.