New York fashion week show features 'celery' shades and flapper influences.
“It’s very Daily Telegraph, isn’t it?” whispered one male audience member at Ralph Lauren’s fashion show in New York on Thursday.
Fortunately for Guardian readers, Lauren’s spring/summer 2012 collection is actually “very Great Gatsby”, which means that it is beautiful, delicate, elegant and – ironically for such a 1920s inflicted show – very timely.
Baz Luhrmann has just started shooting the latest film version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel. Lauren didn’t work his way out of the Bronx to become a billionaire by missing tricks, you know.
Lauren – whose mother was once deeply disappointed in her son’s decision to not become a rabbi, but perhaps she’s mollified now – is a distinctly American designer, and that doesn’t just refer to his very unrabbinical fondness for dressing like a cowpoke. His collections always take Americana as their overriding theme: sometimes this means denim, sometimes this means the wild west and, yes, sometimes – and most wearably – this means the American flapper era, and next season’s collection is one of his strongest takes on the look yet.
At first the show looked set to veer on the dowdy side, with an opening look that featured an almost frumpy floral skirt and what the show notes insistently referred to as a “vintaged cardigan”. Just what every woman wants to spend triple figures on: a hole-ridden cardi.
Incidentally, speaking of the baroque coinages in the show notes, the word “green” apparently does not exist in the world of Ralph Lauren. Instead, that shade is “celery”. Now you know.
But things quickly picked up with sorbet-coloured silk blouses and flowing palazzo trousers, pastel three-piece women’s suits and – most elegantly of all – pale chiffon, crepe and georgette dresses all cut on the bias, ending on the knee or going full length.
Only the now-disgraced designer John Galliano can cut a bias dress more beautifully than Lauren and, judging from its brightness and lightness – even a white leather skirt suit looked as delicate and easy as a choux pastry – he had a lot of fun making this collection. He was certainly smiling as he took his bow at the end. Or maybe he was just musing on how his son, David, had recently married George W Bush’s niece, Lauren, turning her into Lauren Lauren.
The most obvious nods to the flapper era – the feather-trimmed knee-length skirts, the beaded caps, the feather wraps – were slimmed down and smartened up just enough to stop them looking too much like a pastiche. While the show might have made winks at a particular film’s wardrobe, the clothes were made for a real woman’s closet.