When WWD asked Ralph Lauren for a visual expressing his inspiration for the season, what arrived via e-mail was one of the house ads from 1993. And why not? After 40-plus years, Lauren has produced a wealth of gorgeous fashion and related imagery. It’s fitting that in a season so strong on renderings of classic American sportswear, the designer laureate of the genre referenced so directly a segment of his own work.

 

Yet rather than draw from his sportiest inclinations, Lauren’s starting point for fall was a Sheila Metzner photograph of Tyra Banks, elegant and a bit mysterious, in a dark printed dress, multistrand necklaces and net gloves and sleeves. “I’m in a romantic, bohemian mood,” Lauren offered by way of explanation.

 

He opened with a series of rich, almost Byzantine floral prints. These came mostly in fluid dresses and when mixed with heartier fare — chunky sweaters; little shearling and fur toppers; knit caps pulled on askew — his Bohemia took on a hint of grunge. But Lauren knew when to move on, and did so with a fabulous cool-girl take on pinstripes (cropped jacket over vest and skinny pants), and a shot of Edwardian intrigue. Here, moody velvets looked rakish in a peplumed jacket over pants, but charmingly wayward in a romantic deep blue dress with puffed lace sleeves.

 

The aura of provocation continued into evening with exquisite black embroideries that ranged from a feisty Goth flapper to a top-and-trousers pairing that made for a study in elegant androgyny.

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