Land Of Dreams. Ralph Lauren SS23

Sometimes, we just want something stable and lasting in the world where everything changes so instantly and abruptly. That’s Ralph Lauren‘s allure, which seems to be going through a sort of renaissance in the last couple of seasons. Over the years, Lauren has shown us his New York – a show in Central Park, the café society show presented at his uptown store, the swanky supper club he erected near Wall Street and last season’s soignee affair at MoMA. While there’s no denying he’s a New Yorker through and through, nothing gets the creative juices flowing quite like a case of wanderlust. And so the designer looked farther afield for spring-summer 2023. Specifically to Southern California – shockingly, the first time he’s shown here. He could have gone anywhere he pleased, but Lauren landed on an unexpected choice – the Huntington Library, a museum and botanical garden just northeast of Los Angeles proper, founded in 1919 by an industrialist family that made their fortunes in railroads and real estate. It was against the museum’s Mediterranean Revival style facade that Lauren presented his vision to his Hollywood pals – Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Diane Keaton, Laura Dern, John Legend, to name but a few. The cushioned loungers and twilight cocktail hour set the tone – this was California casual, done the Ralph way. “California has always been a land of dreams and contradictions – rugged coasts and red carpets,” he said in his show notes. You could sense that those contrasts fascinate him. “For the first time ever,” he continued, “I bring my dream of living here, sharing my worlds in an experience that celebrates a way of life I have always believed in – a mix of grit and glamour, energy and inspiration.” In his six-decades-long career, there’s nothing in the American psyche that Lauren hasn’t addressed in some way. And yet, the West and its mythos, has been particularly transfixing. So it’s not surprising that he found ways to wring out new insights from archetypes and codes that he’s explored before.

The show opened with a trim, wheat-colored suit worn with an oversized cowboy hat, a Western belt, and antique-style jewelry. The effect was confident and assured – a mix of the urbane and rugged, of masculine and feminine. Floral-pattern bias-cut prairie dresses fluttering atop cowboy boots followed, adding a demure touch, while fringed knits became oversized cardigans or wrap skirts, imparting gravitas. Men, meanwhile, wore dusky denim suits, evoking the hardscrabble dignity of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, or, alternately, looked like suave frontiersmen of classic Hollywood westerns, the models tipping their hats and winking at audience members as they strutted by. The show shifted through different modes, first came looks in an easy key: breezy pleated pants worn with louche white button-ups, preppy sweaters tied around the neck, tennis shorts paired with a creamy brown turtleneck, a shimmering gold safari suit, all imbued with a sense of offhanded elegance. Next, it moved into a more eclectic, youthful beat: madras patchwork mixed with tailoring, athletic gear mixed with prep, polo shirts atop ball gowns or maillots worn with billowing nylon floor length skirts. Lauren seemed to be shaking off the formality of the East Coast, embracing the outdoorsy lifestyle of Los Angeles. It was a looser, freer collection, one that was a snapshot of the breadth and variety of the American style idiom (the wonderful casting of various ages and ethnicities helped tell that story beautifully). Instead of the normal final walk, the enormous cast came out and lined the stairs as Lauren, smiling, took his bow.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Arcadia. Ralph Lauren SS03

As spring is approaching, I’ve got one collection on my mind: Ralph Lauren‘s spring-summer 2003 line-up. This one is like wine – it gets better with time. On the 20th of September in 2002, in the middle of New York Fashion Week, Lauren pitched an enormous muslin-draped tent, filled with white cushions, huge candles and twinkling crystal chandeliers – in the lush walled gardens of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Entering the building, the audience was met with trays of champagne, while the smell of tuberose and the strains of Erik Satie wafted through the evening air. If that wasn’t enough to induce a romantic swoon, the clothes would have done the trick. Lauren loves the womanly silhouette of the fin-de-siècle, with its nipped waist and curving hips. For spring he chose to highlight that silhouette with regal fabrics like damask, jacquard and silk moire, made into curvy jackets, bustiers and vests, and shown with creamy linen or silk trousers or light, pretty skirts. There were great leather pieces, gilded or printed with a wallpaper floral, and beautiful, skin-baring silk chiffon dresses. While Lauren makes no secret of his love for the past, that season he was resolutely modern: for evening, he showed a beaded top with a floor-length bustle skirt made from very distressed blue denim. This feels so good in 2022!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.


Festive Guide: The Classics

Victoria Beckham resort 2022

From globetrotting adventurers to design-forward homebodies and fashion fans with a penchant for glamour – whoever you’re shopping for, this Christmas gift guide featuring timeless classics has the perfect presents to suit all styles this holiday season!

From left to right, top to bottom: Norma Kamali one-shoulder stretch-jersey dress, “Helmut Newton. Legacy” book by Taschen, Manolo Blahnik Hangisi satin slippers, Mateo 14-karat gold pearl choker, Prada crystal logo earring & Alaïa laser-cut leather clutch bag.

FRAME & Ritz Paris embroidered cashmere wweater, Gianvito Rossi green heeled sandals, Jil Sander pearl earrings, Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips 2 Lip Balm “Enigmatic Edward”, Lanvin beige wool skirt & Jil Sander pouch.

Khaite off-the-shoulder column dress, Judy Geib Neogeo 22K and 18K gold earrings, The Row leather tote, Costa Brazil body cream, Cashmere In Love cashmere bralette & Cashmere In Love cashmere biker shorts, Anine Bing mules.

The Elder Statesman open-knit cashmere sweater, Cashmere In Love knit skirt, Maison Margiela Tabi ballerina flats, Dries Van Noten tulle skirt & Anine Bing bracelet.

The Row oversized silk and cashmere-blend coat , Byredo eau de parfum “Mixed Emotions”, The Row shoulder bag & The Row silk-satin gown.

Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater & Ralf Lauren cashmere midi skirt, Jil Sander wool gloves, Costa Brazil Skin Ritual Travel Kit, “Peter Lindbergh. On Fashion Photography. 40th Ed.” by Taschen & Issey Miyake wool shell dress.

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

P.S. In this post, I happen to endorse products I genuinely love. If you end up buying something through the links, my site might earn an affiliate commission – which is always nice!