Ralph Lauren: On a Crusade

Ralph Lauren is into time travel — English-style. Setting the mood with music from Orlando, he roamed the centuries, making stops from King Arthur’s Court to an Edwardian stable. Nobody loves a kilt more than Ralph. This time, he did them in mohair, decking his lassies in huge, furry plaids, often with matching jackets. But he also mixed the fabric with all sorts of other textures — tweeds, Aran-inspired cables, suede and leather — for sweaters, vests and jackets that were closed with kilt buckles and brightened with a crisp white ruff at the neck.

Ralph went Edwardian with a sassy lineup of beautifully cut riding jackets and coachman’s coats. These were in red and black, with occasional spots of fake cheetah.

When Sir Ralph went a-courting, he did it with the gusto of a zealot on crusade and sometimes got a little too costumey. There were lace-up knights’ tunics, leather breastplates, gold bullion cross and lion insignias, leather-trimmed Guinevere gowns, chain-mail sleeves on dresses, and metallic leather “armor” so authentic you could perch it on a horse at the Metropolitan Museum.

Escada: Good Sports

After a few difficult seasons, it looks like Escada is making a big push to reclaim its power position in the American market. And Tuesday’s show was a double-barreled presentation, with the Escada line teamed up with the new and breezy Escada Sport collection.

It’s clear that Escada boss Wolfgang Ley is out to broaden his customer base, and the Sport collection is sure to attract a fresh, younger crop of fans. Cashmere sweats, plaid flannel shirts, hooded pullovers, blazers, jeans, quilted vests and peacoats were layered and styled with as much vitality as anything else in town. All commercially sound.

What was strongest in the Escada collection designed by Michael Stolzenberg and his team were the short, snappy knit polo dresses under matching cardigans and a whole raft of coats — from luxurious belted cashmeres to long, sweeping shearlings.

The long evening numbers, however, seemed unnecessary and a bit jarring compared to the strong sportswear.

Isaac Mizrahi: Mad About Hue

Isaac Mizrahi really knows how to put on a show. He’s gearing up for his big APLA extravaganza in Los Angeles next month, and he’ll hit the road with a production worthy of Broadway — and clothes that are more than a match for the schtick.

It was great to see. Mizrahi has had some tough going in recent seasons, and with this collection, he pulled everything together like the Isaac of old — the energy, excitement, ideas, and the joy.

He started by turning the lights up behind a skrim, giving his audience a peak at what goes on backstage. But the real story was on the runway, where there was never a dull moment — literally. He had said this collection would be “insane with color,” and he wasn’t kidding. He worked in the palette of a crazed artiste, mixing powder blue, cranberry, orange, aqua and a plethora of pinks — poodle, pepto, powder and pez. Why be discreet when you’re tossing striped or plaid silk taffeta down jackets — so puffy they looked inflated — over huge, hip-sitting ballskirts or floor-length fake “beast” coats over sequined nightgowns?

But it wasn’t all the stuff of theatrics. This collection was filled with fabulous things to wear, right down to the most amusing boots in town. There were camel peacoats, pastel shearlings with sleeves on the fluffy side and rubberized tweed raincoats. He also showed little skating dresses and some of the best suits Isaac’s done in years. Almost invariably, these had short skirts, often a full wool tulle tutu. But Mizrahi also dabbled in that new knee-covering length for a pair of kilts that looked fresher than their many mini relations.

Isaac didn’t work all the kinks out of his production, for example, costumey corsets, dresses with pompons gone awry and others that looked just plain dowdy. But by and large, the man’s got a hit on his hands.

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