After 45 years, is Ralph Lauren getting nostalgic for the days when he laid the foundation of his empire? When Mod ruled fashion and a cool guy from the Bronx likely took notice of the sartorial swings of Carnaby Street?
So it seemed with the spring collection Ralph Lauren showed on Thursday, a spare but feisty affair that charmed and puzzled in equal measure. There’s much to be said for simplicity, and what better statement of minimalist allure than the Mod shift — young, snappy, versatile.
Lauren devoted a good deal of his lineup to it with lovely results, from the girlish, white-collared black knit that opened the show to the notice-me versions in high-impact colors (at least the yellow, cobalt and lime green; one draws the line at neon-orange leather). There was a major, appealing black-and-white motif, both solids and graphics, the latter including a striped shirtdress with ruffled hem and tattersall sweater dress. The best pattern, however, was a flamboyant floral on a snappy cady suit and terrific leather trench, both utterly delightful.
Lauren’s men’s wear looks proved more perplexing. True, much of it had a jaunty flair befitting its inspiration and was delightful — to a point. Unlike the dresses that had a natural ease, the tailoring sometimes turned costumey, confounding to anyone who walked through the designer’s men’s presentation last month. There, in the graceful confines of Lauren’s headquarters, guests experienced the pure luxury radiating from his Purple and Black labels.
True, men’s is another fashion animal altogether, and the context of showing, very different. But the sense of luxury so innate to Lauren’s ethos should have translated more obviously. Here, the look trumped the luxe.
What shone through brilliantly: Lauren’s razor-sharp focus on accessories. Many of the looks featured handbags, often in matched combinations — like-toned bright patent bags with the vibrant dresses; a calf Ricky printed à la a Greek-key jacquard dress. These were invariably terrific.