Adam Lippes likes to keep things personal. Yet his charming, at-home presentations had run their course, the clothes at times vying for attention with his eccentric, amply appointed living room. Lippes knew it was time to move on, for creative reasons and because his business is growing, enough for him to relocate his studio to a glorious space with breathtaking views high above lower Broadway. He showed his spring collection in the unfinished space, warming up its exposed-brick raw state with some furniture from home, dahlias from his upstate garden and a gracious breakfast buffet.
For the collection, Lippes was inspired by joy, a not-inconsequential motif in New York’s early going. Self-Portrait’s Han Chong sought “a relaxed sense of positivity,” while Christopher John Rogers imagined vacationing clowns, not the scary ones, but the kind who make you laugh. Backstage before his show, Lippes mused on the evolution of his spring mood board, which featured Helen Frankenthalers and other women he loves, Wedgwood’s Fairyland Lustre, which made an appearance in a fanciful print, and garden imagery. Ultimately, he realized that the overarching theme wasn’t about a specific color story or this or that artist. Rather, Lippes said, he saw “color and fun and movement and volume. And that is where we wound up — joy basically.”
Joy — definitely. Basic — not so much. Lippes has perfected a take on sportswear that deftly incorporates points of interest in a manner soigné and relaxed. His love of color emerged with subtle irreverence, pastels, brights, blacks and whites all co-mingling, sometimes in unlikely pairings — lilac sweater with fiery red skirt; heather-gray sweater with lime-green pants. Lately, Lippes has explored volume, and here, shapes fell freely on the body. These were as different as a sun-bleached denim top cut with a sly nod to Fifties couture over matching Bermudas and a peek-a-boo lace T, a languid flocked polka-dot gown with embroidered smocked yoke, and a loose purple sequined sheath, to belt or not, as you please. But all was not on the loose. Lippes highlighted the waist in shirted looks — a white shirt tucked into black trousers; a lilac chiffon shirt worn with a men’s wear plaid pleated-skirt suit. It all added up to a primer on relaxed sophistication.
To that point, six years after launching his business, Lippes introduced shoes in collaboration with Sergio Rossi. To a pair, they all looked pretty and interesting — boots covered in tiers of swingy fringe; mules with ingenious detachable ankle ties. And to a heel, they all looked comfortably walkable. Talk about joy.