Derek Lam was in a Palm Springs state of mind when he designed his knockout spring collection, inspired by the clean lines of Midcentury Modern architecture, the raw expanse of desert and the refuge of a clear blue pool.
The result was an upbeat sportswear collection that was one of his best ever, with shades of Slim Aarons and chic 1960s suburbia.
Not that the clothes were a throwback; in fact, they were the picture of confident, timeless dressing-- a white denim trench with graphic black patent details, a smooth, caramel leather T-shirt, a tailored hemp blazer, and short sleeve lattice-weave sweaters perfect for layering.
The python diamond patchwork pencil skirts were like a grown-up version of your favorite vintage '70s rocker jacket, and navy blue silk shantung pants with white cuffs a more elegant alternative to blue jeans.
For evening, a black organza beaded tile dress twinkled like the night sky, and a coral silk jumpsuit was hostess chic. I also loved the head-to-toe kaleidoscope print looks, as goofy and loud as the seat covers on the pool furniture. A tile motif turned up, too--on a pale blue embroidered skirt, and brown-and-white wedge sandals.
When asked backstage if he had spent any time in Palm Springs lately, Lam, who is originally from San Francisco, said "No. But I want to retire there!"
--Booth Moore, reporting from New York
Photos: Looks from the Derek Lam spring 2012 collections shown during New York Fashion Week. Credit: Dan Balilty / AP Photo; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.