Ralph Lauren’s Milanese palazzo — tables groaning with flowers, ivy spilling over the walls of the marble courtyard — had been transformed to match the designer’s highly polished, cinematic vision of the glamorous good life. And the presentation of handsome models, grouped in curtained archways, told the story of how Purple Label had, beginning this season, absorbed the sportier, hipper spirit of Black Label: seamlessly and luxuriously.
Many American brands are bidding adieu to segmentation, and here it was easy to see how the chairman of the board, accustomed to sleek or dandy suits in the finest Prince of Wales wool, could appreciate a woven leather racer jacket and vivid chinos for a romp in Portofino, or a merino sweater trimmed in black leather for roaring around in his vintage sports car. (Those lower down the totem pole will need a raise, as starting Purple Label price points hover around 20 percent more than the previous Black Label’s.)
“It’s a little bolder, it’s a little more fashion,” Lauren had said during a preview.
Indeed, grafted together, the two brands inhabit a more contemporary zone, broadcast by the trim, yet natural tailoring — and a more playful and freewheeling approach with fabrics, all exclusive to the brand. Consider the widespread use of denim: Here, a natty blazer; there, an unexpected safari jacket, or a shawl-collared tuxedo. The surprise reached a zenith with a jean-style jacket made of alligator skin dyed indigo.
The vast collection spilled over into an anteroom, where slightly less “editorial” looks were housed. Not that there was anything as banal as ath-leisure. Tracksuits were done up in the finest cotton jersey that Italy can muster, sometimes dotted with an updated RL logo, while glossy leather high-tops sprouted silver spurs.