There’s much to be said for fashion’s ability to tell stories. On Wednesday, Ralph Lauren spun a beauty, a tale of nomadic meanderings through the proverbial, non-specific realm of far away. That lack of geographic definition imbued the collection with a dreamlike feel, especially by night. You didn’t want to wake up.
Lauren showed at his women’s flagship on Madison Avenue, where the first two floors were transformed into a floral wonderland, their walls completely covered in orchids, 100,000 or so, intertwined with air plants, desert agave, vines and moss. “It’s a little bit exotic,” Lauren said during a preview.
Just the right bit. Themes can be cheesy. The strength here was that Lauren telegraphed that sense of romantic distance with discretion, never crossing over to cliché.
Continuing the course he embarked on last season, this was an instant fashion, buy-now show. Beginning Thursday, the spring clothes will be available online as well at select stores around the world. Early shoppers at the flagship will experience the installation, which will remain intact through Monday.
The lineup’s opening palette drew from sand and dunes — off-whites, beiges, almost-golds — and set the mood of subtle sensuality borne as much from the models’ ownership of the clothes as from discreet displays of skin, whether bared shoulder or exposed midriff. Yes, there were nods to traditional sportiness in relaxed jackets and pants, yada, yada. But this show was really about big-picture ease, a lifestyle philosophy manifested fashion-wise in a fluid silhouette. In that sense, chicken or egg: Which came first, the unfettered, textural layering that allows for a psychological exhale, or the relaxed, bohemian mindset that can’t be confined or corseted?
Unfettered — definitely. Yet not a synonym for plain. These clothes were packed with surface interest — a jacket handwoven from strips of suede and leather over a washed silk dress, a burnished gold dress with petal skirt under a distressed leather jacket, a dress in what appeared to be an open, artisanal lace — all high interest and high impact.
Yet the real stars were the micro paillettes, liquid lamés and other silks that Lauren used for spectacular evening dresses: goddess gowns in jade and purple, an embroidered lilac Lurex lamé embroidered gown in a modified sac shape, a strapless in pale printed gold. A pair of skin-baring black cady gowns were equally stunning.
While these were high evening, some looks will traverse between night and day. Case in point: the airy gown-cum-anorak in a watery silk print that closed the show. Lauren showed it over the collection’s lone pair of jeans. Because no matter how remarkable the trip, the best roads lead home.