The Washington Post

Ralph Lauren show: Calm, peaceful luxury

The atmosphere at Ralph Lauren’s spring show on Thursday morning was one of calm, peaceful luxury — a welcome change from the hot, crowded venues of the previous days.

The designer’s inspiration: “The Great Gatsby” and the Jazz Age, brought to life with cloche hats, long strand necklaces, slinky satin dress and a seemingly endless supply of ostrich feathers. Lauren provided costumes for the 1974 “Gatsby” film, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, so he’s familiar with this territory, and he channeled both Daisy and Jay with sweet floral dresses and three-piece suits.

Save for one glossy pink motorcycle jacket, the line stayed firmly rooted in 1920’s femininity and upper-class luxury — while so many of his peers were busy looking forward, adding sporty touches and dousing clothes in neon hues, Lauren revisited the past.

Not everyone will love it — “Satin dress, floral dress, satin dress, floral dress ...” one editor said dryly after the show. But for A-list starlets such as Olivia Wilde, who sat in the front row, and women longing for a dash of crisp, mannish suiting to go with their silk and chiffon column dresses, the collection will serve as a bit of pleasant time-traveling.

Chado Ralph Rucci might be the only collection to receive a standing ovation during New York Fashion Week, with the audience cheering for individual looks and rising to their feet as the last model ducked backstage.

Rucci is not known for experimentation — his bread-and-butter is beautifully tailored suits and dresses with Upper East Side appeal. But there was a noticeable nod to the future this time, as the designer incorporated clear plastic insets into garments that could otherwise be considered perfectly classic.

The result was a feeling of transparency among the structured silhouettes, as though Rucci was trying to capture the light that clerestory windows provide in the solid block of a building. Dresses and tops with cut-away backs were sexy without losing the mystique that so appeals to Rucci’s clientele. Balloon-sleeve coats and jackets were opera-ready but not dowdy or showy; they evoked the careful symmetry of a Japanese paper lantern — free of heavy ornamentation, letting the beauty of design speak for itself.


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