“Never worry about the facts. Just project an image to the public.” So said that great style sage Diana Vreeland. One of the many wonderful things about fashion is that designers need not hoist the albatross of accuracy, but are free to manipulate any theme, thought or inspiration as suits their creative purposes. Flappers may have been the bad girls of their day, but you wouldn’t know that from Ralph Lauren’s demure take on Twenties’ style, a mood foreshadowed by Wednesday’s fabulous accessories presentation, as clearly old T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes glanced toward a cruel end for a guy named Gatsby. It made for a lovely show, and if one would have liked the romance tempered with a tinge of irony, such isn’t Lauren’s way.
Still, there was an element of surprise. Lauren’s set telegraphed high-polish, highbrow glam: crystal sconces flanking a pristine white doorway; floor covered in huge, diagonally set white glass tiles, as if awaiting Fred and Ginger at their spiffiest. Instead, out came Valentina in faded floral skirt and “vintaged” — read: shredded — cardigan, looking as though she’d broken out prettily threadbare Jazz Age relics at the height of the Depression. She proved something of an aberration and, happily, Lauren didn’t dwell on the wrecked sweater notion, crossing over to tony languid separates in mash-ups of blues, greens, pinks and corals, all worn under insouciant cloches.
Though these day looks charmed, in this lineup, evening (and the accessories) stole the show. One wondered if Lauren was inspired by the wedding gowns he made this summer for daughter Dylan and daughter-in-law Lauren. He also may have recalled his glorious all-white collection of 10 years ago, which he designed before, but showed after, 9/11, its gentility somehow so right for the moment. Either way or neither, the mostly white and silver gowns — Jean Harlow satins, floral metallics, crystal encrustations — dazzled.