The world of Ralph Lauren is the stuff of legend — sophisticated, graceful, adventurous. Yet sometimes we forget just how diverse a world it is, one open to various demographics and stylistic viewpoints.
On Thursday, Lauren reminded us of exactly that when he showed two very different aspects of his world, the signature collection and his new Polo women’s line, with which he opened. The set that featured a grand, pilastered arch and three massive crystal chandeliers set the tone for the former. But no matter, the girls of Polo would charm in any environment. The lineup is vast and Lauren highlighted its various moods, all deeply entrenched in the more casual side of his aesthetic. Oddly, he opened with the weakest part, neon puffers and sweaters over black dresses and skirts that felt a bit old-school. But a few looks in, out came an Aztec-patterned cardigan over a Henley T-dress, and the Polo-ette found her groove with grounded, feisty fashion well-suited to a busy, casual lifestyle. This was followed by a fast assortment rooted in the glorious house lexicon — tweeds, tartans, Nordic, dusty florals, jeans — worn in charming pilings that swung from slightly subversive preppy to chic tomboy.
The Ralph Lauren Collection evoked a different mood entirely, as soigné and refined as Polo was devil-may-care. Lauren’s models always look exquisite, their beauty — here sleek ponytails and gently pinkened cheeks — tony polish, never overdone. The same was true of the clothes, worked in lush, unfettered fabrics — double-faced, cashmere knits, suede — in a muted, highly focused palette of whites, grays, pinks and lilac.
Lauren kept shapes languid, many with fluid lines suited to the grand gesture — a crepe dress with flyaway appendage over one shoulder; several ponchos and capes, including one in suede worn over turtleneck and pants, all in pink. Such tone-on-tone pairings intensified the collection’s aura of retro diva, sometimes to a fault. When Lauren went just a little less studied, as with a fabulous pink shearling cape and gray Mongolian lamb, both over white underpinnings, it felt more modern.
Evening was all about minimalism gone utterly gentle. The winner here: a strapless pale-pink gown with shirttail hem. When in motion, it offered glimpses of the darker pink inside. Heavenly.