—Joseph Ungoco for RunwayResoure.net
Ralph Lauren's runway show was the perfect way to kick off the last day of New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Skylight Studios was transformed into the quintessential American drawing room compete with crown moldings, a black and white diamond tiled floor, massive onyx crystal chandeliers, and black velvet tufted cushions on the custom-built bleacher style seating. Upon entering, one had the distinct feeling of being in a rarified atmosphere, the perfect setting for the most aspirational of American brands.
The pre-show milling was a gentle waltz of fashion's top editors and arbiters of style. Teri Agins chatted with Ebay's Constance White. Kate Lanphear and her signature platinum hair cut through the crowd as she dashed for her seat. Stefano Tonchi of T Magazine looked as distinguished as always. Carine Roitfeld of Vogue Paris leaned in conspiratorially with Purple Magazine's Olivier Zahm. Signature tresses dotted the audience, including Lynn Yeager's crimson bob, Allure's Linda Wells perfect blond part, and the unmistakable tresses of Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter. Glenda Bailey of American Harper's Bazaar held court while opposite her the full Vogue contingent both Grace Coddington and Anna Wintour, Sally Singer, Virginia Smith and the boys, Andre Leon Talley and Hamish Bowles, sat serenely.
The show opened with all the signature style that makes Ralph Lauren famous as a lifestyle brand. Layered knits, iridescent velvets, tweeds and chiffon all conspired to create timeless looks that fit the city-to-country lifestyle. The earthy color palette included moss, slate, black currant and espresso, the perfect complement to any manicured lawn or hunt club.
The collection then progressed into silhouettes that were perfect for the young American woman just back from her first Grand Tour of Europe. Flirty, Parisian-style ruffled skirts under English country tweeds were shown with a dash of American style, with wide belts and fur trimmed crocodile embossed high-heeled leather booties. Lauren used featherweight suede where other designers would only dare to use chiffon. The ruffled blouses and tunics in suede were strikingly chic and sophisticated.
Variety may be the spice of life, but for the Ralph Lauren woman it rules the day. Lauren presented riding pants in all possible variations, but most notably with cropped shearling vests. Lauren also offered his customer all manner of structured shoulders from '80s power-shoulder to the utterly romantic leg-of-mutton version. No collection would be complete with Little Black Dress options and Lauren did not fail to present several amazing options. The ones you'll be sure to see in all the magazines and party pics are the loose fitting Deco era dresses with Erte style beading and sequins as well as the graphite floral beaded slip dress. Deceptive in their simplicity, these dresses are effortlessly beautiful.
Mid-show, to the strains of Michael Jackson's Billy Jean, Lauren presented a romantic puff-sleeved garnet silk velvet evening column that seemed to float as gracefully as rose petals as the model glided down the runway.
Floral prints lent a touch of jeune fille to the collection. The Parisian influence continued in looks that featured classic ruffles and airily draped silk georgette and were named for the famous districts of Paris – the Marais, St. Germain and Montparnasse. As the final look of the model parade marked the end of the show, the applause was deafening. Lauren took his designer's walk as the Europeans do – to the very end of the runway, smiling and clasping hands with old friends and new – the very model of the lifestyle that every Ralph Lauren women either already leads or aspires to.