September 13, 2017

Elegant, Earthy, Easy: Derek Lam’s Collection Was Just Really Great

WP – One in a series on the moments that had people talking at New York Fashion Week:

Derek Lam at his spring 2018 runway show in New York. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — It’s always nice coming to the Seagram Building, that Mies van der Rohe architectural feat on this city’s East Side. It is even more satisfying to settle into The Pool, that glamorous dining space with the delicate chain curtains that ripple in the breeze.

The arrival is not by limo but by the E train. The appointment is not for lunch, but for fashion. And because the designer is Derek Lam, one leaves satisfied and sated, but without any excess calories.

Derek Lam spring 2018 (Courtesy of Derek Lam)
Derek Lam spring 2018 (Courtesy of Derek Lam)

Lam returned to the runway for spring 2018 after a short break, during which he presented his collections informally, so guests to see the details of his clothes and he could explain his thinking. It was inspired, he said, by “wanderlust” — but truly, this collection needs no explaining.

It was American sportswear brushed with elegance and earthiness. The palette was rich but not gleaming. The colors were a bit sun-baked but not faded. He offered crisp jeans, knit dresses in blocks of color, and soft blouses in scarf prints. He made strapless evening gowns with a bodices that were one-part corset and one-part bandana. He embellished jackets with silver studs. It was all beautiful. Surprising, but wearable. His setting was uptown, but these clothes were not defined by a particular neighborhood or tribe or demographic. They were about a mood. A need to roam and a feeling of restlessness. Breathe deeply. Breathe.

Derek Lam spring 2018 (Courtesy of Derek Lam)
Derek Lam spring 2018 (Courtesy of Derek Lam)
Derek Lam spring 2018 (Courtesy of Derek Lam)

The great feat of Lam’s collection was the way he captured a subtle feeling that is almost impossible to put into prose let alone express in linen and lace. In his show notes, he quoted Walt Whitman: “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains.”

Lam captured nature’s openness, calm and balance. Unrushed. Confidently controlled. Not garish or loud. Optimistic. In the middle of the city, in the heart of one its man-made wonders, there was a chance to exhale.