When Ralph Lauren talked about his Polo collection reflecting "heritage
looks of Americana" for Spring 2006, he might as well have been
describing his Purple and Black Labels too. In all three ranges he
celebrated homegrown archetypes. Purple had the Astaire-smart Palm Beach dandy in gray plaid cashmere with a pink windowpane overcheck. Black had the thrusting Wall Streeter, noughties-style, in a streamlined
pinstriped suit, the jacket sleekly suppressed, the trousers flat-fronted
and tab-closing, the oxfords worn sockless. And Polo had all the fun,
with the frontier guy in his worn, Western-stitched suede jacket, the
Connecticut preppy in his blue cotton blazer and plaid pants, and the
boho artiste in cropped, paint-spattered denims under a herringbone
jacket straight from the thrift shop.
If they all sound like characters in a movie, that's no less than we've come to expect from fashion's most celluloid-obsessed designer. And his vision here was as sweeping as any director's. The looks described above scarcely encompass the breadth of Lauren's offering. Or its occasional wit (the green paisley blazer with the pink chinos that Preppy Man wore, for instance). Or its desirability, in everything from a hot-yellow cargo pant to a navy duffel jacket to a double-breasted suit in a Prince of Wales check, overlaid with a pale yellow windowpane. Savile Row weeps.