09/09/2013 05:55 EDT | Updated 11/09/2013 05:12 EST

Phillip Lim looks to geology for fashion inspiration in spring collection

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Crunch, crunch. Yes, those were salt crystals covering the floor at Phillip Lim's runway show Monday. And though they may have stuck in one's toes a bit, it was all for a good cause: Accentuating the geological theme of this creative designer's newest collection.

For the 3.1 Phillip Lim preview, the designer was inspired to explore "different terrains, landscapes and rocks," he explained in a post-show interview.

"I was in search of something stable, sturdy and elementary to stand on," he said. "We live in such a brutal ecosystem. I wanted to explore what it might be like, for example, in the Galapagos. We looked at all sorts of geodes."

Fair enough, but did any of this show up in the clothes? Actually, Lim proved better than many designers in expressing his theme clearly and forcefully, best of all in the embroidery that evoked intricate and colorful rock formations. First up on the runway was a black geode embroidered jacket, paired with a tank and pencil trouser. It was followed by variations of a geode pattern on tops, tanks, dresses, pants and sweaters.

Also striking: A cracked metallic suede, used in items like a sleeveless shirt or a vest. As he has often done, Lim gave his customer a lot of room to move around in; a few dresses looked a little too roomy. But he closed the show with some more fitted items like an elegant "teal terrain' dress with an abstract neckline, and a similar sleeveless top, paired with a pencil trouser.

It's been a busy few months for Lim. In June, the designer won a Council of Fashion Designers of America award for his accessories. And on Sept. 15 he debuts his new line for Target — what he calls a "modern-day wardrobe for citizens on the go."