"Ease, simplicity, comfort", said Billy Reid in his warm, languorous Louisiana drawl about this collection. When cajoled, he went into polite detail, but really, those three words summed it up nicely. Essentially, the designer has been carving out a stylistic niche all his own, a unique hybrid of Southern nonchalance and a more sophisticated international style. What was new this season was the degree to which he pursued that ease, simplicity, and comfort. He spoke of a purity of line that he hasn’t expressed before, achieved through pleats and drape rather than hardware or other unnecessary adornment. Pants were so baggy, deliberately, that the hems pooled around the models’ feet, while Huck Finn hats were so floppy that the models had to lift their heads to peer out from under them. The company is still based in Alabama, and that shows no signs of changing, but Billy Reid travels the world and the seven seas in search of just the right fabrics to convey his particular brand of country grunge, if you will. That is, when he’s not developing his own fabrics from scratch, which is what he spends the bulk of his time and creative energy doing. He goes for fabrics with a high degree of texture, like soft tweed, distressed velvet, double-faced corduroy, and cashmere, mostly in subtle variations of beige, cream and gray. He then finesses them into the natural shapes he’s after. Good for him. Good for customers.