Given that Ralph Lauren is essentially the flagship designer of the U.S. of A., perhaps it was inevitable that the many arms of his empire would eventually come to resemble a United States of Ralph: all flying the same flag, but distinct in their ways and means. More than usual, Lauren took care to separate out the different labels under his aegis this season: Purple for the execs, Black for the modern gents, Polo for the guys, a sprinkling of RLX for the hikers and bikers. And what's piloted at HQ may eventually come to the real world, too: Hong Kong got its own Purple Label-specific flagship this year, and a New York Polo store is en route for 2014.

Ironically, the more separate the lines become, the freer they seem to be to borrow from one another. Purple Label, ever the home of extravagant suiting and formalwear, had plenty of it on show, from a shawl-collared dinner jacket to Wall Street-ish pinstriped suits, but its sportswear collection was expanded like never before. What's more, it came in brighter colors more often found at Polo. And here, as throughout all of the lines, a desert motif reigned, in suede sahariennes, linen trousers, and the requisite $90,000 full-croc jacket.

Black Label had its usual dark suiting, but leavened with weathered denim, styled with sherbet-bright sweaters, and generally with a more casual air—"where sportswear and haberdashery come together," the company calls it.

At Polo, collegiate prep still rules, right down to the P-knit letter sweater. But here it got a buzzy jolt of color, in distressed chinos and shoulder-slung cable-knit sweaters, plus a dose of Lauren's Southwestern yen, thanks to a free hand with serape prints.