Derek Lam Spring 2012: California Love & Mid-Century Luxe

I always look forward to a Derek Lam show--the man does sporty and sleek chic like none other--but after seeing photos of the graphic stripes at his new 10 Crosby presentation from earlier this week, I was particularly eager to see what Lam had up his sleeve. Would the two collections overlap thematically? Could the designer balance the weight of his signature line plus his still new, lower-priced project? The balance was there. In place of the simple sailor stripes shown at 10 Crosby, "Lam proper" was a more buttoned-up, knit-heavy, and (appropriately) luxe affair. The designer had been inspired by architect Richard Neutra's famed Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, and it showed in the sunny desert palette and modern geometric lines he incorporated into the clothes.
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I always look forward to a Derek Lam show--the man does sporty and sleek chic like none other--but after seeing photos of the graphic stripes at his new 10 Crosby presentation from earlier this week, I was particularly eager to see what Lam had up his sleeve. Would the two collections overlap thematically? Could the designer balance the weight of his signature line plus his still new, lower-priced project? The balance was there. In place of the simple sailor stripes shown at 10 Crosby, "Lam proper" was a more buttoned-up, knit-heavy, and (appropriately) luxe affair. The designer had been inspired by architect Richard Neutra's famed Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, and it showed in the sunny desert palette and modern geometric lines he incorporated into the clothes.
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I always look forward to a Derek Lam show--the man does sporty and sleek chic like none other--but after seeing photos of the graphic stripes at his new 10 Crosby presentation from earlier this week, I was particularly eager to see what Lam had up his sleeve. Would the two collections overlap thematically? Could the designer balance the weight of his signature line plus his still new, lower-priced project?

The balance was there. In place of the simple sailor stripes shown at 10 Crosby, "Lam proper" was a more buttoned-up, knit-heavy, and (appropriately) luxe affair. The designer had been inspired by architect Richard Neutra's famed Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, and it showed in the sunny desert palette and modern geometric lines he incorporated into the clothes.

Kinga Razjak strolled out in an organza button-up shirt with a fantastic black design at the neckline that mimicked the look of collar tips. Meanwhile, a duo of knee-length skirts bore snakeskin patchwork designs reminiscent of mid-century wallpaper (trust me, it worked). Lam's a veritable maestro when it comes to crisp, classic outerwear, and his spring coat selection--particularly a coral-hued leather trench worn by Arizona Muse--was as breathtakingly budget-breaking as usual. And in an interesting twist for a man who generally favors statement brights over busy patterns, Lam worked in a marine-and-peppermint kaleidoscope design on tapered sheaths and tunic-style shirts. It was tropically preppy and totally fresh.

While the designer's famous leather dresses made an appearance (I adored a black strapless lambskin one set with panels of noir embroidery), it was a section of sequined party numbers featuring geometric "tiles" of shine that really got editors' tongues wagging. The gridded, sparkling frocks showed glimpses of leg beneath, and would be right at home on the red carpet. True to form, however, Lam ended his show with several far more minimalist--though no less appealing--looks, including a pair of crepe jumpsuits in camel and coral. Closing with classic West Coast hues directly reminiscent of warm sand and sun was a savvy move that drove home the collection's theme. And judging by the front-row presence of some big-league retail honchos--Linda Fargo, Amanda Brooks, and Jenna Lyons, anyone?--Lam's spring offerings are going to be swift sellers indeed.

**All images: Imaxtree