Phillip Lim’s latest Fall collection is black leather and biker chic. Inspired by the ‘cafe racer’ of the 1930’s, Lim’s dark, funkified garments melted the nuts and bots of the era with his signature design look. “I’m feeling this whole genre,” Lim said of biker style. “It was how to make that genre not so literal, not so aggressive, not so one-sided.”
But who said that Biker-style was aggressive? Sure the authentifiles wear studs, zippers and genuinely ride bikes. But aggressive; only if you’re thinking of gangs, maybe. But I wouldn’t call our beloved Stig of Style aggressive whilst riding his Ducati. Since Harley Davidson started marketing towards the bankers and accountants of the world, the whole biker concept took a different turn. A U-turn. Perhaps? A high powered businessman, owning an 1800cc motorcycle was classed as extremely cool and uber-rebellious. We kinda’ dig it.
Lim’s solution to softening the visual tone of the cafe rider genre was to make it rootsy. His bikers wore leather pants that slouched and rode high on the ankle. Their dungarees bore the stamp of foreign travel: They came lavishly, if graphically, embroidered. So did a leather moto jacket stitched over with white stripes. The camo print resembled ikat. Wherever they’d been, his racers brought back the stamp of other lands. “I always call it Escape From Bourgeoisie Island,” Lim said with a laugh. “The one who got away returns.” Even the title hinted at the distance and the difference: Sonomama, Japanese for “as you are.”
A Phillip Lim collection has wheat and it has chaff. That’s as they are. This one was no exception. But it held together better than some other recent outings, thanks to appealing individual pieces—key among them, a side-zipping sweatshirt in bonded leather and a series of patchworked outerwear—and to the unifying power of black leather. Ride on Racer!