(images via vogue)
maybe before we start in, you should take a moment to get a beverage. ralph lauren‘s new york fashion week shows (see s/s 2012, a/w 2012, resort 2013, s/s 2013) are always so epically long, i was actually left wondering, in rather amused fashion, if the designer was vexed that marc jacobs opted to swing his show into the event’s closing day, thereby cutting into a segment (and yeah, yeah, i know calvin klein shows then too, but really?)–complete with praise, pomp, and all–that we’re well aware should be reserved for all things polo.
alas, i’m kidding (mostly), as i do believe mr. lauren is pretty confident in that he’s the undisputed master of all things classic americana, although interestingly enough, in the past few seasons, he’s been spreading his net a little wider, perhaps realizing, as so many have done before him, that fashion has become more of a global thing, with customers in other countries being equally important to please as one’s own. thus, for his a/w 2013 presentation, as with his last couple of collections, he’s left the comforts of the posh american countryside in search of something a little more internationally-flavoured.
now, i’ll actually be interested to read where the critics come in regarding the autumn range, as to me in some ways it distinctly resembled two different shows (though indeed, both of them were very handsome). the first part reminded me a great deal of kinder aggugini’s s/s 2013 homage to the old man and the sea, while the latter rang in a lot like, well, a lot of what we see during moscow’s many fashion weeks (i was thinking especially of both the a/w 2012 & s/s 2013 a’la russe collections), and was said to have been inspired, at least in part, by the recent film adaptation of anna karenina.
anyway, though i honestly don’t care (i like the internationalism, though i’d certainly prefer a few more models of colour, as well as different body types, but don’t get me started on that), sometimes i find it kind of funny that mr. lauren (and michael kors, as well, with his penchant for estonian models carmen kass and karmen pedaru) so regularly casts russian models (we always see valentina zelyaeva and olga sherer, for example, and although this time natasha poly was curiously absent, daria strokous, anna selezneva, and vika falileeva all joined his cast) when he’s kind of ‘quintessential americana’ in his look. however, this season finally all of the slavic girls felt spot-on.
so! time for the critical portion of our evening, then? right, so, the washington post weighed in that “‘I was inspired by the spirit of a romantic revolutionary — a timeless heroine, independent and bold, a woman who revels in her individuality and personal style,’ Lauren [said]…Perhaps her story begins in a cold, seaside town, with a wardrobe that includes a cashmere cable-knit turtleneck with a flared leather miniskirt or balloon-leg pants tucked into her boots. She also has a nautical-striped sweater and sailor-style pants in black double-face wool.”
“There were the requisite days of the tsars references, particularly in the accessories: chain detail on ankle boots; sailor caps made for the high seas of the Baltic; the type of opulent chandelier earrings last seen decorating the Romanovs; and perhaps some of the most gorgeous bags of the week, carpet-style, in rich, yet faded, tones, looking for all the world like they’d done active service for years going between home and dacha and back again,” proclaimed us vogue in what has to be one of their longest sentences yet. “Yet for all his historical source of inspiration, this was Lauren giving a contemporary master class in how you can simultaneously soften and dramatize black so that it doesn’t have to look stark and flat and sober, working it across many, many great (great) coats and myriad trousers.”
elsewhere, the la times clipped in that the show was “(a)A gentle dance between a navy officer and a beautiful czarina. Black sailor pants, ivory blouse with ruffled bib and superluxe shearling sling duffel bag. Booties with gold chain tassel trim. Cream wool toggle jacket worn with black flare pants. Cashmere turtleneck sweaters, sweeping devore velvet maxi skirts and patchwork carpet bags. Coats and jackets with floral velvet embroidery and braided trim. A gorgeous black silk pleated dress with fine strips of leather in the pleats. Sumptuous evening gowns fit for a czarina, one in midnight velvet with a stunning crystal embroidered collar, and another in shredded ivory tulle with a shearling capelet.”
and style reflected that “(m)iilitary 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,” they shuffled on. “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.”
meanwhile, according to usa today, “Lauren layered textures to luxe effect: embroidered vests over silk blouses, distressed jackets over herringbone vests over cashmere turtlenecks, with thick brown belts to rein it all in. (Other adornments were yanked from the military: epaulets, officers’ stripes, braiding.) The designer underscored his status as one of fashion’s kings of effortless contrast, beginning with those antler-and-crystal chandeliers: a cream cable knit sweater was paired with a black organza skirt, sturdy shrunken jackets and dark leather boots were mixed with sumptuous velvet dresses in wine and violet. And the finale gowns in tulle and taffeta? They were crowned by black fur hats.”
“Lauren broke up the mannish influence with lovely fluid dresses in deep-toned velvets — wine, blue, purple — some shown under jackets and with delightfully audacious carpet bags,” mused wwd. “These led into a mostly glorious evening lineup. A full-skirted bordeaux georgette and tulle gown under a shearling capelet would have suited Anna Karenina, while there were more languid beauties, too. Cases in point: a divine beaded jersey with plunging neckline and a midnight column with jeweled yoke that channeled one of Lauren’s favorite ladies, Audrey Hepburn. No, she was neither French nor Russian. But Ralph’s tastes, like his appeal, are global.”
and said cathy horyn of the nyt in her usual staccato manner, “Ralph Lauren went to the merchant marine, or a chic facsimile of pea jackets, sailor pants, leather and salty-dog knits. Dressed in the style himself for his bow, Mr. Lauren will invite headlines like ‘The Old Man and the Sea.’ Well, he’s the boss. The masculine bits of the show looked familiar, but swirls of Bordeaux, black and deep-green taffeta with delicate pleating were worth the wait — and worthy of a modern red carpet.”
then, chimed in uk vogue, “(o)uterwear of course was especially strong, unfurling huge collars up top and big buttons darting their way down them, and big snuggly knits to ward off those winter chills. Then came ruched-torso jewelled-hue dresses of rich velvet, still topped off with those jaunty berets and then the Russian influence really took hold for little waistcoats and layered necklaces over billowy-sleeved shirts and more super voluminous cossack pants with boots. These styles then loosened up into the more wearable and contemporary and it was really a lesson in how to mix and match and make a look very concentrated and stylised or, if you prefer, simply not at all.”
“On their own, all of these pieces would easily slip into your wardrobe, which is really the point,” they warbled onward. “Cropped bolero jackets, more jewel velvets, fuzzy collars and bigger coats – after all of this we then moved onto shimmering black eveningwear, all beaded and ruched at the front and continuing the move towards a longer length that featured throughout. And it was here that we then saw some of that Karenina attitude – elaborate and elegant gowns for a feisty femme.”
and according to forbes, “(a)fter his Spanish themed spring collection, Ralph Lauren went to a colder country for fall — Russia. Lauren began his shows with separates that gave a slight nod to military, more specifically to Cossacks, with trousers that were loose around the legs. He began with mostly black, white and navy daywear including form-fitting knits, coats with a slight pouf on the shoulders, a puffer jacket lined in shearling, nautical inspired tops, and jackets with military decoration. These were followed by cocktail dresses and gowns in rich velvet and silk bringing to mind images of Dr. Zhivago and Anna Karenina, especially those topped off with fur hats. His closing look, an ivory colored gown in silk and tulle with delicate beadwork topped off by a luscious fur wrap and hat had me thinking of fantastical scenes in a cold climate.”
and finally, we heard from the telegraph: “As so often with this designer, there were plenty of references for cinephiles to unravel. The lushly heavy knitwear and Cossack trousers would have been perfect on Julie Christie for Doctor Zhivago. Following an evening section of ushanka hats matched with darkly toned velvet and chiffon dresses Joanna Coles, the British Editor of US Cosmopolitan, tweeted: ‘Anna Karenina meets the Upper East Side.’ Lauren, though, is never too literal with his allusions; so there were black Breton caps, gorgeous velvet tea dresses and one long fitted flamenco skirt with no fewer than 20 flounces to mix things up a little.”
(watch the full fashion show video here)