The collections that have been most compelling this season have conveyed a sense of the personal and essential. Perhaps that’s a bit abstract for clothes, but you know it when you see it, and both feelings were summoned on Derek Lam’s beautiful spring runway.
He did so with the help of a muse. Program notes cited the recent Nina Simone documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Sometimes such specific references can raise an eyebrow, but the idea of Simone’s “deep soul and independent beauty” truly resonated in the clothes. It was a collection for a complex personality, adhering not to any specific sartorial focus but a range of womanly moods and depth.
Lam’s own luxurious American sportswear aesthetic was the guidepost, but he indulged his free-thinking side more than usual, opening with looks that felt wholesomely intellectual and progressed toward tender flou. A preppy-ish black ribbed sweater with bell sleeves was worn over a crisp blue Oxford poplin shirtdress with round white buttons and a chaste midcalf length. His variations on shirting — soft and structured — came buttoned all the way with sharp workwear collars and stitching. A sensual bohemian moment was illustrated with rich fringed suede, and a slinky yellow cashmere sweater dress accessorized with vaguely tribal jewelry and a fur stole that the model carried with opulent indifference.
Silhouettes exuded languid nonchalance via elongated bell sleeves accented with undone ties, fluid cuts and a fresh, chic use of fringe to trim the lining of two gorgeous trenches and circle motifs on a liquid white crepe dress. The footwear, too — low-heeled, lace-up pointy booties — enhanced the chic individuality of the collection. It felt like Lam had gone with his gut.