Derek Lam's printed run of show opened with a quote from none other than George Balanchine, the undisputed master of fluid movement: "There are no new steps, only new combinations." And Lam's gorgeous showing was just the thing to jolt us to life on a snoozy Sunday morning--no bottled Frappuccinos needed. The designer's always been a master at tailored layering, but this season, the San Francisco-born talent aimed to mix inherently dissimilar fabrics--say, silky twills with heavy wools and rough waxed furs with supersoft cashmere. All that textural juxtaposition added up to what we felt was one of the first truly stellar collections so far this Fashion Week.
Though Derek is often hailed for his clothes' minimalist silhouettes, the sleek lines were undercut with interesting patterns, like a red-and-black "chintz tweed" on several skirts and coats that reminded us of sporty television-screen static. Continuing with the uptown athletic motif, there were also wide-legged pants paneled with leather that seemed an uber-high-end take on track pants, or perhaps a more laid-back tuxedo trouser. Plenty of dresses were shown over pants, a look that's been popping up since the pre-fall presentations. And there's no doubt this designer knows his way around leather and fur; in addition to a lovely black nylon-and-beaver bomber jacket, he sent out a pale grey dress-and-coat combo trimmed with contrasting black lambskin that we would have loved to steal straight off the runway (if only our wallets allowed). If the billowy, satin-skirted finale gowns topped with leather bodices felt a little reminiscent of Chloé Spring 2011, we were able to overlook the slight sense of deja vu. After all, any frock that jaw-dropping is surely deserving of a hearty round of applause--exactly what Lam received as he took his final bow. **All photos: IMAXTREE