During Coach’s heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, the C might as well have stood for “classic” or “collegiate.” But Stuart Vevers, Coach’s new creative director, has a decidedly different agenda for the brand: “Making the normal fantastically normal” is how he describes it.

For spring, C stands for “cartoonish,” or “cultish.” Putting together his mood board for the collection, Vevers was drawn to films like Lost Highway and True Romance and also to the work of the Los Angeles artist Gary Baseman, which he says has “an eerie, dark playfulness that I found appealing.” But rather than attempting to channel Baseman’s quirkiness, Vevers brought him to New York and set him up in an office at the Coach headquarters. There, Baseman, who had his first major museum exhibition in 2013, at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center, immersed himself in the brand’s archives and developed an in-depth character study of the Spring Girl. This included scribbling confessions in her diary; figuring out the songs on her playlist (the Smiths and the Velvet Underground are two of her favorite bands); and even coming up with her mascots, a secret society of imaginary creatures named Buster Le Fauve, Candy Darling, Kiki, Ziggy, and Iggy. “What I wanted to do was create a world that the collection couldn’t exist without,” Baseman says.

At the runway show in September, the audience first encountered Spring Girl, who is “too smart for the town where she’s from,” on a desert highway at sunset, dressed for adventure in Mod candy-color leather minis, pastel faux-fur coats, flared jeans, cropped jackets, platform slides, and clogs. Baseman’s characters jumped from T-shirts, off totes and studded shoulder bags, and played across sweaters sprouting tufts of fur. What appeared to be a leopard print on several skirts, coats, and bags was actually Le Fauve’s pelt.

“I think it has a kind of odd, cool, rock ’n’ roll attitude,” says Vevers, who cites the pattern as one of his favorite elements to come out of the collaboration. “Just the fact that it has Gary’s hand in it, to me, makes it really special and unique. That’s what you get from working with an artist; there’s something much more rich behind it.”