News & Runway

Designer Dossier: 3.1 Phillip Lim

Any seasoned fashion pro will tell you that for a designer to achieve sustained success, he needs to have a stamp on each collection that's all his own. Phillip Lim, the designer of 3.1 Phillip Lim, has been able to mix together modern silhouettes and flourishes in a way that lends itself to overall chic simplicity. How does he do it? If we knew that, we wouldn't need to covet his designs. 

A true natural talent, Lim didn't consider a career as a clothing designer until he was unpacking a box of Katayone Adeli clothing while employed at Barneys. He loved her design style so much that he vied for an internship and won it. Just two weeks in, he found himself whisked off to work in Paris, all before he'd finished college. Though it wasn't until age 31 that Phillip's true path to fashion world stardom began. 

As the story goes, he was sitting on his couch sipping a beer and watching Oprah in the middle of the day, jobless, when his friend Wen Zhou gave him a call. Zhou, a fabric supplier, resolved to fly Lim out to New York immediately and it was there they decided to form a business partnership and a line of clothing called 3.1 Phillip Lim. The 3.1 gives homage to their shared age at the time. This was in 2004. By 2005, Lim's designs were appearing on a smattering of actress ingenues, as well as being picked up by a number of suppliers. He won the CFDA award in 2007 and the rest is fashion darling history.

Lim continues to delight his loyal customers with looks that are utterly hip without being trendy. No grunge or downtown down-and-out "it" girl tributes here. Ladylike with a modern twist, sophisticated yet subtle but for one extra touch is Lim's style. And we're hoping he sticks with it. Check out our picks for some of his hits of recent seasons.