Some designers will tell you what their inspiration is; Ralph Lauren actually takes you there. To stage his spring show, Lauren pitched an enormous muslin-draped tent, filled with white cushions, huge candles and twinkling crystal chandeliers, in the lush walled gardens of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Entering the building, the audience was met with trays of champagne, while the smell of tuberose and the strains of Erik Satie wafted through the evening air.

If that wasn’t enough to induce a romantic swoon, the clothes would have done the trick. Lauren loves the womanly silhouette of the fin-de-si┐cle, with its nipped waist and curving hips. For spring he chose to highlight that silhouette with regal fabrics like damask, jacquard and silk moir┐, made into curvy jackets, bustiers and vests, and shown with creamy linen or silk trousers or light, pretty skirts. There were great leather pieces, gilded or printed with a wallpaper floral, and beautiful, skin-baring silk chiffon dresses. While Lauren makes no secret of his love for the past, he’s also resolutely modern: For evening, he showed a beaded top with a floor-length bustle skirt made from very distressed blue denim.