“You better make your statement, whatever it is,” Ralph Lauren told WWD recently. “If you do it, you believe in it and you know how to say it, then you’re a leader. If you follow the guy that’s doing it, you’re not a leader.”
At his fall 2016 Purple Label men’s collection presentation, a public relations representative noted that Lauren recently wore the dramatically long, lightweight shearling coat that was part of a Western grouping displayed in his Milan palazzo. Belief can’t go further than putting your own clothes on your back.
These six ensembles alone – including a calfskin trucker jacket, a fringed suede number and a furry toggle coat worn by heartthrob model Lucky Blue – immediately took one’s mind to Lauren’s Colorado ranch, and to the idyllic lifestyle portrayed in the designer’s iconic advertising imagery with its vintage cars, and stately homes.
It’s all connected. The burled wood on the dashboard of the designer’s prized Bugatti repeats on the bezel of his Skeleton watch, and on the hardware of his new ski collection: Carbon fiber parabolic skis and a matching helmet equipped with an avalanche alert system.
Lauren keeps his foot on the accelerator when it comes to exalting the good life, expanding his Purple Label range onto the slopes with the “ultimate” in performance fabrics, just as he seeks the most luxurious cashmere for track pants; the most buttery leather for sumptuous car coats.
The tailoring was strong and athletic, hewn close to the body with natural shoulders while assuming a variety of moods: sleek and urban in a black technical fabric; Old World elegant in a dark houndstooth three-piece with roped shoulders and a shawl-collared vest, and molto Milano in mocha tones and subtle shirt patterns.
Evening clothes were bold, with dinner jackets in large-scale floral jacquards and tuxedos in blue velvet with jaunty shoulder epaulets. After all, Lauren defines glamor as “tasteful, stylish, adventuresome and dangerous.” Much like James Bond — the Sean Connery version. “It’s a guy who knows how to put himself together.”
During a walkthrough of the collection in New York earlier this month, the designer said he’s pushing the boundaries of formalwear to show the man “how he can expand his wardrobe, still look cool and not have to wear the same black tuxedo.”
There were beefy sweaters and loden suede utility jackets — pieces Lauren said represent casual sportswear for his elite customer.
“This is newness for this guy,” he said. “He wants change. We’ve done a lot here in terms of color, fit, the way the product is made. I think it’s got a sophistication.”
He said the offering as a whole was centered on “soft luxury. Men have been wearing flat surfaces — this is about texture and softness and it’s also become a little looser.”
He also offered up updated versions of neckties, which is where his business began nearly 50 years ago with not much more than a drawer in the Empire State Building.
“That’s where we started, it was wide ties and opulent and thick,” he said. But like the apparel, the ties too have softened up this season. “This is silky, drapey, rich looking. It’s got a softness. The patterns are very easy. I’m tired of seeing guys with no ties.”