Ralph Lauren sure knows how to treat a lady. Attendees at his show on Thursday, the first show on the last day of New York Fashion Week, reached their seats to find a card that read 'Happy Valentine's Day' attached to a pack of chocolates from Dylan's Candy Bar, his daughter's chain. It helps to have a confectioner in the family in moments like these.
The entire show kept it in the family, so to speak, if you can take 'family' to mean decades of familiar, reassuringly luxurious Ralph Lauren codes. Lashings of military and maritime style came wrapped up in a half-Russian, half-flamenco bow.
What? We know. But it worked better than that mishmash of references makes it sound. Black or navy captain's jackets with red collars and gold braid at the cuffs brought a buttoned-up correctness to loose harem-trouser silhouettes. Braided watch caps topped looks pairing jumpers with little leather skirts. Actually, for awhile there it was a case of cable knit with everything: one of Karlie Kloss's exits saw the model wear a cream jumper with a twitchingly tiered black flamenco skirt.
Ruby and amethyst '40s velvet dresses and skirts made bohemian travelling clothes. Black stocks at the necks of billow-sleeves white shirts added contrast, equestrianism. And oh, the gowns: could the red-carpet-dressing powers that be please arrange for Nicole Kidman or Kate Hudson to wear the midnight blue silk velvet gown with beaded yoke to the Oscars? As for Kloss's black gown, with strands of silk beads shivering at every step, she should just wear that all the time, always.
In the end, the outfit that encapsulated the collection most aptly was the designer's own. Mr Lauren walked out to take his bow wearing a cream cable-knit sweater and button-fronted sailor trousers. It was as crisp and American on the 73-year-old style titan as on his half-century-younger models.