Ralph Lauren's immaculate fall show was inspired by his personal collection of vintage cars, 13 of which go on display March 6 at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Close-fitting black leather jackets and skirts echoed the elegant curves of a very rare Bugatti, while the train of a strapless beaded dress evoked the tapered tail of an early Mercedes.
Paying homage to speed, Lauren thankfully avoided a theme that's been all too prominent this season: volume, which he dismissed in his opening sequence of strictly tailored gray fitted vests, below-the-knee skirts, and wrap coats. A parade of great menswear looks included a standout bold glen plaid trench, tossed with nonchalant confidence over the shoulders and teamed with a charmeuse shirt and cuffed houndstooth pants. Streamlined cashmere dresses, accented with leather epaulets and elbow patches, were pure luxe, and cropped jackets in fur-trimmed cognac leather and silvery shearling were just as sexy as his sleek trenches.
After dark, Lauren continued in a thirties vein. Matte jersey met silky charmeuse on simple columns, and Art Deco beading decorated the torso and trim of a silvery gown. The gender-bender suit and goggles sported by Erin Wasson were a misstep, as were the unfortunate skull caps inspired by Tamara de Lempicka's 1925 Autoportrait. But Lauren's pleated black tulle dress is worthy of an old-style Hollywood swoon.