09/06/2013 03:26 EDT | Updated 11/06/2013 05:12 EST

Peter Som elevates sportswear to more sophisticated styles for spring

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Walking around, living life, even in Manhattan, Peter Som sees a lot of women in their athletic clothes, even beach clothes. But that doesn't make this fashion designer, who has built a reputation on chic clothes for the next generation of "lady," cringe.

In fact, he likes it. It's when women are comfortable that they feel the most confident, Som said Friday in a backstage interview during New York Fashion Week.

But, why not take that to the next level?

Som turned out a runway with spring clothes he said were inspired by "a surfer girl," complete with neoprene, wavelike prints and bare midriffs in cropped tops and bikinis. "I'm a beach bum at heart," he said. (He can't surf, though. "Too accident prone.")

He paired the sportswear pieces with sateen tuxedo jackets, snakeskin coats and eyelet cocktail dresses. The blue wave neoprene sweatshirt dress that was worn with a crisp, white button-down tux shirt showed how to cross that bridge in style.

Floral prints were graphic, almost jarring, and tailored Bermuda shorts had unfinished edges.

The juxtaposition of seemingly opposite themes, such as a slouchy chambray shirt with a feminine eyelet back — worn with a tweed skirt, no less — is what makes fashion interesting.

"That tension is sexy," he said. "I'm never not interested then."


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