Ralph Lauren is shorthand for a lifestyle. The fashion empire of the 91st richest American is built on selling a tastefully expensive American dream. So as an escapist fantasy from a chilly New York fashion week, Ralph Lauren recreated a vignette of his own holiday home in Montego Bay in a cavernous former rail depot in downtown Manhattan.
In front of an audience which included the actors Katie Holmes and Hilary Swank, the catwalk descended from the deck of a wooden beach house with white shutters, cane furniture, hurricane lamps and porthole mirrors.
Lauren “wanted to share the mood, the light, the blue and white freshness of my retreat in Jamaica”, he said. Barefoot models wore tie-dye sundresses with basketweave handbags, or sporty colourblocked dresses in the bright graphic blocks of regatta pennants. The style was reassuringly familiar. Casual white jeans were worn with expensive suede belts; crisp white shirts with collars flipped up to frame exquisite earrings. There were Breton stripe sweaters, deck shorts, and navy blazers with white piping.
he Ralph Lauren aesthetic edges at times toward parody. Mens’ outfits in the show teamed double-breasted suits with natty silk cravats and espadrilles. This drifted alarmingly close to the wardrobe of Shell Oil Junior, the boat-loving millionaire Tony Curtis invents in order to seduce Marilyn Monroe in the film Some Like It Hot. Here, perhaps, is a reminder that personal fortunes of $6.2bn (£4.5bn), at Forbes’ last estimate, are not made by an overemphasis on subtlety.
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