The antler chandeliers spray-painted gold were the first clue that we were in for a change of scenery. After throwing what will go down in fashion history as one of its grandest parties ever for his 40th anniversary last September, Ralph Lauren swapped Central Park for Colorado. His Western family retreat, the Double RL Ranch, has provided inspiration for many of his famous signatures, and he reprised several of them today with superb results.
Lauren opened with a series of city dresses and suits in cashmere herringbone and black double face cut close to the body. But he didn't linger long in this urban terrain (smart thing; the leopard-print pieces weren't a good fit with the rest of the collection). Soon we were heading West to the land of green border-stripe swing jackets, red-and-black buffalo plaid suits, and cozy blanket coats. He worked these Ralph-isms with customary expertise, coming up with unexpected combinations like a fitted plaid hunting jacket with a spry little mini in a buffalo check, or a cashmere plaid shirt unbuttoned to reveal a glam necklace (Lauren lined up a stunning list of jewelers for the show, including the Gem Palace) and tucked into a sassy tulle skirt covered in beads and feathers. Of course, many of these outfits will look just as at home in Manhattan as on the range.
The plaids lingered after darksome, like a winning high-necked gown that fanned out below the knees, more successfully than others. But his evening wasn't one-note. He showed supple draped velvets, two of the prettiest in a deep hunter green and a garnet decorated with beads. And for something more dramatic, there was a black tulle gown with a cutaway back. Lauren knows that wherever his ladies take themselves, country or city, they always pack a party dress.