By day, a little Aspen and a little Robert Altman Southwest. By night, sleek, sensual black. It added up to a whole lot of chic from Ralph Lauren.
After spring’s kinetic explosion of color, Lauren felt in the mood for something more low-key visually and more obviously sumptuous. “The idea was how to make texture — sweaters, shearling — luxurious,” he said backstage.
He found the way, and beautifully so. He started by upping the ante in terms of materials with a rich, inventive array of finishes, weights and embellishments, including a huge focus on shearling. His primary silhouette: long, lean and languid.
Lauren announced those motifs with subtle understatement, a turtleneck and skirt in heathered “truffle” cashmere accessorized with furry hat and gauntlets and low-slung belt. He kept to a narrow palette, multiple shades of ivories and browns, allowing no color distraction as the textures intensified — tribal embroidery on a simple T-shirt; a flurry of feathers on a skirt; exquisite jeweling giving sparkle and graphic weight to a georgette skirt.
Yet while Lauren embellished to a fare-thee-well, he retained a mood of inviting, casual chic. For all of the gorgeous work — and there was plenty — not a thing looked overwrought or fussy. Part of that was the deft balance worked between decorative impulses and the chic practicality of sweater dressing and abundant shearlings.
Knits formed the base of the collection, everything from simple sweaters and skirts to a divine take on the twinset (abundant wrap coat over trim crewneck) and Aran-descendent wraps that were masterpieces of surface shenanigans. The shearling came as jackets, coats and vests variously patchworked, embroidered, reversible, sewn together with laces, always with a bohemian tinge. As for the tinge of Altman, some of the looks, particularly one that combined a Donegal jacket with a ruffle-collared shirt, necktie and black pants, whispered, “How’d ya do, ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller.’” That subtle Wild West reference made a point. No sissies here; this lineup had a certain real-life grit to its glamour.
Evening was lovely as well, as Lauren switched gears for a lineup of pretty, mostly safe black gowns. One longed for some of the casual gusto to cross over from day. It happened once: a long-sleeved ivory column in gutsy wool-and-cashmere lace. Oscar ladies, who needs a bustier?