3.1 Phillip Lim: Shape-Shifting Notions of Femininity and Elegance

Besides the necessity of such a massive space required for seating all of Phillip Lim's attendees and celebrity guests—we spotted Kanye, Alexa Chung, Rashida Jones, Coco Rocha, Simon Doonan, and fellow designer Richard Chai—the Park Avenue Armory was one superbly fantastic, not to mention fantastical, location for the designer's 3.1 Spring 2011 show. Lim's runway consisted of the expansive, open floor punctuated by abstract white sculptures that lent an Alice in Wonderland effect to the scene, as his models floated out in ensembles of deconstructed layers and abstract variations on traditional womenswear pieces. 

Paneled neutral-toned skirts, monochromatic layers of varying lengths, and sweaters that resembled cardigans worn backwards were some of Lim's first looks to showcase his deconstructionist bent this season. Notions of familiar feminine dressing were unraveling before our very eyes, as each outfit became a snapshot of the process: Alice falls down the rabbit hole and grabs a pair of scissors. And yet there was a thrilling, controlled madness to it all. A toffee-colored silk tuxedo-collared jacket elegantly tied at the waist as if that had been its implemented style all along, while cocktail dresses layered over gossamer-thin nude-colored tees, the occasional pop of periwinkle blue, and form-fitting silhouettes further conveyed Lim's deliberateness.

Without a doubt, the skewed bedtime-story setting was an appropriate one. Not only did Lim later explain that the sculptures were large-scale replicas of mouldings from his bedroom, but the sense that nothing was entirely as it seemed was rampant. As each model wound her way through the epic runway course, we had plenty of time to take in every outfit from all angles, and rarely did the appearance of one garment's front dictate that of the back. Rhinestone and lace-detailing on translucent, sheer overlays were clever surprises, as was the sewing pattern-like seam work seen on a short trench and several dresses.   

There was little adornment by way of accessories—not that the garments needed much—with the exception of spare, neutral-toned handbags, leather tassel belts and several platform-clog hybrids that are bound to be next season's "it" shoe.

Backstage, Lim explained that his muse is like a dandelion losing her layers in the wind, a reference he had also made earlier on by way of a line from a Charlotte Gainsbourg song. She changes from each day to the next, he said, adding that it's the case for every woman.

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