It is really wonderful when the elegance presented on the runway is also reflected on every other aspect of putting on a show, no matter how small and insignificant a detail it might seem to some. Being greeted by friendly security and PR, for example who seem genuinely concerned you might trip on that step you can’t see because you’re admiring the carpet or the giant vase of flowers at the entrance or Bruce Weber (in my case). Having a seat that not only allows you a perfectly clear head-to-toe view of the models no matter how far from the front row you are but a cushioned one for that. Imagine that, a cushion! It’s been a long week, friends, but I can’t think of a better way to start the last day of this New York Fashion Week than in Ralph Lauren’s company.
The giant chandeliers wrapped in their covers were not dusty enough to be Miss Havisham’s – they were simply awaiting the next party, once the lady of the house was back from safari or her trip to India. Or maybe Mr Lauren was putting luxury on hold for this season, an absurd notion for a man that earlier this week walked on water for the Polo 4D extravaganza in Central Park and anyhow, the models were dripping in jewellery. No, with yet another masterful collection Ralph Lauren managed a small little victory over all the cool kids in this town: he presented both a smart suggestion for what next season’s staple should be – a pair of slim cargo trousers – and showed how you do evening wear and how you make it ridiculously elegant, instantly desirable and effortlessly cool. Because if you don’t want to wear one of his long, floating safari gowns you really ought to reconsider.
There was a sportier feel in this collection that usual; cargo pants aside there were gathered up rain jackets and trench coats, albeit in leather and although the sage green and khaki safari shirts and skirt suits were properly grown-up there were some great second-skin-tight leather and suede trousers plus a metallic silk satin tracksuit and a flight jumpsuit too. Because if anyone can it’s Ralph. The colour palette was jewel-like: amethyst purple and citrine yellow but bright orange and fuchsia too and even the army greens and khakis glistened on metallic organza. It was rather a rather sensual collection too, in the measured and confident way a black dress had leather lacing work down the shoulders and arms or how a silk skirt gathered up at the hip just so or how the back of an ivory silk column gown was exposed. But it was those finale gowns - one in khaki silk satin draped around one shoulder like a scarf, another in lemon tulle that fell off the shoulders and the very last one in sage green and silk taffeta will all the safari and military codes of the collection and all the ease and glamour of the Lauren world. I half expected to see Kate Hepburn kick up a fuss in that one.