At Ralph Lauren, last season's Old Hollywood, Aviator-style high glamour took a backseat to a more relaxed brand of chic. Gone are the silk charmeuses, hourglass suits, and bugle beads, and in their place are charms of a more rustic nature: denim, serapes, and hand-painted decoration. "Freewheeling" is how the designer described his collection, and he drove that point home by coming out for his bow in well-used sneakers and jeans.

He began with a series of navy jackets in a nautical theme, including a Sgt. Pepper style that divided the audience—some loved its gold bullion embroidery; others didn't. These were paired with classic linen pants and shorts or georgette skirts in white. From there, Lauren moved on to skirtsuits in crisp, mismatched shirting stripes. Interspersed throughout were eyelet and lace, in keeping with the season's trends, and other items—a horse-blanket poncho, a patchwork jacket, thrashed and embellished jeans—that were distinctly Ralph.

For evening, he took the menswear fabrics he knows so well and shirred, ruched, and ruffled them to create sweet but seductive shapes. More of that gold bullion appeared on a swishy cocktail number, but a gown made from yard after yard of embroidered white tulle was the show's real stunner.