NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren and Polo are synonymous. It’s surprising, then, that Lauren has never offered women’s under the Polo moniker, but that’s set to change. Today, the designer will kick off his fall runway show by unveiling about 25 looks from the new women’s Polo Ralph Lauren brand, which is making its debut for fall.
Lauren mulled the pros and cons of showing Polo and Collection on one runway for some time, but decided in favor of it because, as he put it, “I love the contrast of Polo’s cool eclectic spirit with the luxury and modern glamour of Collection.” His fall Collection show will follow the Polo runway launch.
The move is part of Ralph Lauren Corp.’s larger global push to capitalize on the recognition and strength of the Polo name amid the group’s brand portfolio.
“I felt like it was time that I should explode this,” Lauren noted. “I thought, ‘What am I not doing? How am I going to make this company stronger? How will I define these brands?’ It’s not about what’s expensive. The same girl that wears this will also buy Black Label and Collection. We’re giving her a diverse mood that she hasn’t seen.”
Polo is not considered a secondary, lesser-priced line. It offers a depth of product at a wider range of price points, which, comparable to men’s, is from $89 for a basic knit top to $998 for leather leggings.
Polo women’s will replace Blue Label, although company executives stressed this isn’t a simple name change.
“Blue Label was a category of clothes, but not defined in the same way Polo is,” Lauren said. “This is a clearer picture of women and girls, age anywhere from 16 to 60. Where we would have done the country look, this is about the young woman today who lives downtown and works. She’s active on weekends. You’ll still see the sensibility of Ralph Lauren. You’ll say, ‘I know this is Ralph Lauren,’ but it has never been defined in a major story with all the categories.”
There are plenty of aesthetic touch points: Americana, Aztec, Navajo, plaids, florals, ruffles and suedes, to name a few. Many of the looks exude a sense of nostalgia, though they don’t look vintage. There is also a rugged, outdoorsy element.
“Everyone thinks Polo is going to be preppy,” Lauren said. “This is not about preppy.” To him, the Polo woman is “chic” and “sophisticated”; “bohemian” was another word bandied about internally.
Dresses, for example, are rendered in silk georgette, while tartans are worked in new ways. A buffalo plaid is used for a hunting jacket. A tweed cutaway coat is shown with a romantic georgette dress; a waffle knit, inspired by long johns, was used for an olive-colored dress and shown with a patchwork flannel shirt. The accessories capture a similar vibe, including rugged bags and high-heel platform hiking boots.
The collection will make its big retail debut this fall, when Lauren opens a Polo flagship at 711 Fifth Avenue here, between 55th and 56th Streets, replete with a restaurant situated in the former La Côte Basque space. The restaurant may or may not be called Polo — the name is still being determined — but the designer knows that it won’t be a replica of his other two eateries. “Ralph’s [in Paris] was a big hit, but it won’t look like Ralph’s,” Lauren said. “This one is sportier and younger. It has a casualness.”
Fifth Avenue is just one of several Polo retail units slated to open though the only one with a restaurant for now.
Last week, in reporting that net income for the three months ended Dec. 28 rose to $237 million and net revenues to $2.01 billion, Ralph Lauren Corp. said that it was accelerating Polo with concept stores in the China region, including its first dual-gender flagship at Lee Gardens in Hong Kong, and a 20,000-square-foot space has been secured on London’s Regent Street. There are also plans to open more locations in the U.S., Europe and other parts of Asia over the next few years.
“I never had an opportunity to really show it clearly,” Lauren said. “I had to clarify it. This is Polo for women, the counterpart of men’s. It’s a real world.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)