Not even luxury titans can escape the pandemic’s humanizing effect.
Billed as a cinematic experience but scaled back somewhat because of COVID 19-related technical difficulties, Ralph Lauren’s “All or Nothing at All” spring digital presentation still managed to deliver a bit of the dream, in moody black-and-white, with an energizing musical set from house muse Janelle Monáe.
It wasn’t quite as fabulous as being at the Ralph’s Club the designer created for his last show back in September 2019, with Art Deco-inspired decor and stars galore. But by now, we’re all used to at-home celebrating, and a nip of the whiskey and handmade potato chips that arrived with show invitations helped set the tone for the silver-screen-to-computer-screen presentation.
Lauren was one of the pioneers of the see now, buy now show back in September 2016, when he turned the sidewalk outside of his Madison Avenue store into a runway and invited guests to shop inside afterward, and he has been one of the few to remain true to the format.
This time, the show was staged inside the Beverly Hills flagship, opened by Jerry Magnin back in 1971, three years before Lauren had his first brush with Hollywood, creating costumes for “The Great Gatsby.” After Monáe finished singing her jazzy version of the “All or Nothing at All” Sinatra standard and others, viewers could wander the store digitally to explore, click and buy the dual-gender collection, through technology first used by the brand during the holidays.
Lauren presented the women’s Ralph Lauren Collection and men’s Purple Label line together, and the pin-striped parallels were a reminder of his role in fashion’s gender-blending history, conjuring well-suited images of Jay Gatsby himself, Bogie and Bacall, and the designer’s in-house brand stars, including Monáe, wife Ricky Lauren and soon-to-be retired right-hand Buffy Birrittella.
There is something instantly recognizable about the precision fit of a Lauren jacket, no question, with the slightly sloped but still padded shoulders, waist-hugging but not cinching silhouette, and structured but soft ease. This season’s made a compelling case that they are luxury wardrobe must-haves, pandemic or no, whether it be a women’s navy pin-striped cutaway style with the white-tipped collar of a polo sweater popping out, or a sleek Deco-beaded chocolate brown version with a silk scarf. For men, casual polish was a terrific-looking three-piece suit or a peak lapel jacket in a light blue washed silk/cotton that read like denim. Perfect for the conflicting urges of this dress-up/dress-down moment.
In many ways, this was the designer at his most elemental, working in cream, navy and chocolate brown, showing the kind of icons he helped put on the American sportswear map, including double-breasted sports jackets and full-legged pleated pants, polo collar sweaters and sweater vests, striped shirting and palazzo pants with a pajama vibe, two-toned loafers and pumps that are both familiar and transporting at the same time (particularly in context of the cinematic-looking show set).
When he did get dressy, it was using a minimalist’s clean lines, rendered on a sleek brown jersey single-sleeved gown, a cream crepe navy tipped strapless cocktail dress perfectly sculpted to the bust, and a men’s tan silk shantung shawl-collar blazer, brown satin bow tie, mocha trousers, pocket square and velvet slipper look that was a relaxed take on a tux.
While not necessarily headline news, the clothes hit as their own form of American comfort dressing with a steady assuredness and stealth-wealth understatement — like tuning into a movie classic.