Ralph Lauren RTW Spring 2013

The clothes flaunted an unexpected visual bravado, without betraying a bit of the designer’s ethos, and many of them looked great.



One of the great joys and challenges of fashion for designer and consumer alike is stepping out of one’s comfort zone, daring to be a little different without looking like you’ve lost your mind, sartorially speaking. We all know Ralph Lauren’s beloved, immediately recognizable reference points; Spain, Mexico and other epicenters of sensual Latin style are not on the tour.

Until now. On Thursday morning Lauren went Latin con gusto, indicating that his risk-taking tendencies are not limited to a yellow Ferrari and selling burgers on Boulevard Saint-Germain. Though not perfect — the show ran too long and at times, too literal — the clothes flaunted an unexpected visual bravado, without betraying a bit of the designer’s ethos, and many of them looked great.

From look one, a frilled turquoise suede shirt over black pants, the message was clear — exuberance, color and lots of accessories. The craftsmanship was exquisite, surface textures enriched via crochets (a bright red, full-skirted tank dress) and embroideries (a gloriously jeweled top worn with a black tulle skirt). Key to the best looks: a casual attitude, no matter how fine the materials or abundant the extras (berets, jewelry, bandanas, an array of bags). A deft irreverence for the material also mattered, when, for example, a serape wasn’t a serape but an off-the-shoulder top. The collection floundered when a costumey toreador troupe muscled in on such measured application. That was not a problem for evening, when Lauren sent out a pair of curvaceous, exquisitely embroidered black gowns that were sensual stunners.

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