The antler candelabras lighting the runway at Ralph Lauren's show this morning said the American West, but they were a decoy. Today, Lauren took us on a romantic voyage with naval-inspired pieces, vaguely Russian-feeling velvets and tapestry embroideries, and dramatic eveningwear. It was his most fully realized, successful collection in a while.

Military references have emerged all over the New York runways, but Lauren is hardly playing follow the leader. They've been part of his arsenal for decades probably, and he showed off his sure hand here with a cream wool toggle jacket and a black crepe tailcoat, both worn with leggy flared sailor pants. If silk frogging and gold ribbon trim on other outerwear put too fine a point on it, underneath it all was fantastic, sharp tailoring. Extending the sailor theme into evening, he came up with one of the show's best looks: a fitted fisherman sweater and to-the-floor tiered black skirt in taffeta and organza—a modern mix of day and night.

An interlude of fitted knits and A-line midi skirts (thankfully brief) followed, after which Lauren really turned on the opulence. It's tempting to assign credit to the Russian street-style stars (at least one of whom was in head-to-toe Ralph in his front row) for the Cossack pants and pieces like a black velvet embroidered coat with shearling collar. They get too much attention already. And, again, Lauren's been at this kind of thing for ages.

He closed with a group of jewel-tone shirred taffeta gowns made all the more grand by the fur hats the models wore. A subtler silk velvet column with a bejeweled crystal bib would be a sure hit at the Oscars. The editorial set, meanwhile, took particular notice of a sleeveless black dress made from pleated silk and leather.