Down came last season's gold antlers and up went a Moroccan lamp: Ralph Lauren looked to North Africa for Spring. For many in his audience today, it's a place that automatically conjures up images and thoughts of Yves Saint Laurent. But Lauren has been in business for 41 years now, and in that time he's mined every continent but Antarctica for inspiration, so if this was in part a respectful nod in the late Parisian designer's direction, it was mostly a fresh look at some of Lauren's own biggest hits.
The show opened with a khaki camp shirt that looked like it had just come back from safari (one sleeve was ripped at the shoulder) and beaded gold harem pants slung with two belts. Interspersed among the other silk-satin takes on that slouchy, relaxed silhouettewhich happens to be right in step with the seasonwere bronze or white linen suits worn with matching shirts and metallic ties, as well as great, swaggering trenches in buttery leather and parachute silk. Indiana Jones hats, turbans (some of them too literally over-the-top), and pearl-and-emerald sautoirs added to the show's adventurous spirit.
The theme continued into evening. A silk-linen gauze strapless gown in olive drab might be just the thing for a candlelit dinner in the Atlas Mountains, and shades of colonial Africa could be seen in a thirties-ish cream silk dress. A black silk evening jumpsuit, on the other hand, looked utterly urban and modern. Ubah Hassan, a model from Somalia, resplendent in a gold lamé column gown and beaded headdress, closed the show. Kudos to Lauren for addressing the diversity issue on the runways, and for a collection well done.