Ralph Lauren: On a Crusade

Ralph Lauren is into time travel -- English-style. Setting the mood with music from Orlando, he roamed the centuries, making stops from King Arthur's Court to an Edwardian stable. Nobody loves a kilt more than Ralph. This time, he did them in mohair, decking his lassies in huge, furry plaids, often with matching jackets. But he also mixed the fabric with all sorts of other textures -- tweeds, Aran-inspired cables, suede and leather -- for sweaters, vests and jackets that were closed with kilt buckles and brightened with a crisp white ruff at the neck.

Ralph went Edwardian with a sassy lineup of beautifully cut riding jackets and coachman's coats. These were in red and black, with occasional spots of fake cheetah.

When Sir Ralph went a-courting, he did it with the gusto of a zealot on crusade and sometimes got a little too costumey. There were lace-up knights' tunics, leather breastplates, gold bullion cross and lion insignias, leather-trimmed Guinevere gowns, chain-mail sleeves on dresses, and metallic leather "armor" so authentic you could perch it on a horse at the Metropolitan Museum.

Escada: Good Sports

After a few difficult seasons, it looks like Escada is making a big push to reclaim its power position in the American market. And Tuesday's show was a double-barreled presentation, with the Escada line teamed up with the new and breezy Escada Sport collection.

It's clear that Escada boss Wolfgang Ley is out to broaden his customer base, and the Sport collection is sure to attract a fresh, younger crop of fans. Cashmere sweats, plaid flannel shirts, hooded pullovers, blazers, jeans, quilted vests and peacoats were layered and styled with as much vitality as anything else in town. All commercially sound.

What was strongest in the Escada collection designed by Michael Stolzenberg and his team were the short, snappy knit polo dresses under matching cardigans and a whole raft of coats -- from luxurious belted cashmeres to long, sweeping shearlings.

The long evening numbers, however, seemed unnecessary and a bit jarring compared to the strong sportswear.

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