NEW YORK SHOWS ITS STRIPES

RALPH LAUREN: Wall Street has beckoned Ralph Lauren — in more ways than one. A day after filing his IPO, Lauren continued to play to the street with a blue-chip collection that was chic, sophisticated and utterly confident. It was also quite beautiful. And if some found it a tad safe — let them make $100 million in profits.
Lauren said last week that his fall collection started with jewelry — clean silver and steel pieces with a Bauhaus inspiration. But by the time he showed on Wednesday morning, Bauhaus had taken a back seat to bankers. That means a bounty of suits, and more pinstripes than the Stock Exchange sees in a month.
Lauren approached the season’s tailored mood with discretion. No stranger to masculine-feminine plays, he handled the trend with subtlety: His shoulders are strong but sensible, and his cuts, clean and architectural, with shapely jackets over fluid pants. The suits come matched or unmatched, with stripes sometimes mixed with plaids or solid flannels. When he opted for dressing in pieces, it was in smart mixes of patterns and solids in shades of gray, brown and navy. A great look: A long, lean-cut coat over a white shirt and relaxed pants.
But even bankers like to let loose sometimes; they might even want to give a passing nod to Tough Chic. Lauren lets them go a little wild in leathers that range from minisuits with maxi collars, to a short, tight little dress with asymmetric seaming.
For evening, there were long dresses in stretch charmeuse or cashmere knit. But pinstripes ruled the night as well as day, in smoking robes and fluid trousers paired with sparkling crystal-beaded tops. And if the gender-bending twosome who closed the show looked hokey, who else but Ralph would attempt to make a teenaged female model out-debonair Cary Grant?
MICHAEL KORS: Last season was a warm-up. For spring, Kors sent out a tough and super-sexy Eighties style collection that was on the campy and trampy side — but this time out, he eased his way into that decade of the moment. It was a less literal interpretation: pared-down, cleaner and more relaxed but still sexy as can be. A slouchy jacket and loose pants, a leather miniskirt and draped tank top, a minishift, a mink motorcycle jacket and loads of cashmere — his rockers are living the good life. They’ll have all those luxe goods Kors is known for and won’t have to give up one bit of attitude.
Kors’s take on Tough Chic is less strict than that on some other runways, and he avoided most of its kitschy pitfalls. He gave a kick of color to sharp blacks and whites with a bright yellow turtleneck or red T-shirt; his power shoulders were more natural than many, and, though his miniskirts sure were mini, they looked so chic.
His misstep came with evening. Does anyone really need a studded leather minidress or those cheap-looking lurex and cashmere pieces? Probably not, but this was Kors at his best — a reminder that luxury doesn’t have to be a bore.

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