3.1 Phillip Lim F/W 2016
3.1 Phillip Lim F/W 2016

This season represents Phillip Lim’s tenth anniversary with his New York line, something he calls a “stop and smell the roses” moment. However, unlike several we’ve seen in recent seasons, such as Alexander Wang last September, there was no huge celebration, no over-the-top production, or even any extraordinary fashion. Instead, true to the designer’s nature, he kept things quiet, reserved, and very wearable.

Lim does casual women’s wear very well. This season, he stays firm in an autumnal palette based on brown, working through dark greens, golds, and an occasional splash of red for contrast. He likes small-checked patterns that look like tweed but are more smooth and refined. Cotton and linen are his go-to fabrics, but he also enjoys working a lot this season with crushed velvet and velour, and isn’t afraid to mingle in touches of leather where it seems appropriate. He’s especially careful with the leather, though, as nothing in the collection is really designed to shout or make a big deal of its presence.

Lim plays a lot with jumpers this season, putting them under dress jackets and over ribbed knit sweaters. He also seems to have a fondness for micro pleats on those crushed velvet skirts and even on the occasional top. There’s a cute biker jacket with linen patches, and a winter coat with interesting patches of mohair.

Where Lim really shines, though, is with pieces that he makes asymmetrical through the use of zippers, contrasting fabrics, and over-sized stitching. While there’s a strong Asian (specifically, Chinese) influence to these pieces, they are very different from anything else in either the Asian or European/American markets. I mean different in a very, very good way, too. He sometimes works along diagonal lines to stunning effect. Other times, he contrasts a block of velour against leather, or stripes against a small patterned print. Each one is incredibly artistic in its own way and stands out in that subtle way where no one realizes just how cool the garment is until they realize they’ve been staring at it the past five minutes.

Despite winning multiple awards, Lim has yet to really have a breakout season where he captures the imagination of women outside the LA and New York markets. He sells primarily through Saks and Neiman Marcus, so consider taking a look the next time you’re out shopping. This is a very mature ten years and it will be exciting to see where he grows next.

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