At the 11:00 show that I attended, Ralph Lauren received a standing ovation. Whether you think it’s a tad OTT or very well deserved, you have to wonder who else would get one in this city these days. No one, really. Perhaps it was gratitude for the quick jaunt to Paris. If there is one other locale that can challenge preppy England for Ralph’s heart it’s the French capital. His Parisian restaurant, Ralph’s even preceded the New York one by a few years. And if the solitary Art Deco lamp above the runway exit did not give it away (the lighting at a Ralph Lauren show is always a nice little clue), the French soundtrack did. Paris it is.
The collection was focused around the Parisian black; navy - a clever move that avoided clichés. From the colour, an added nautical theme emerged. A white jumpsuit with a U.S.A. Navy insignia reminded that this is an American in Paris. A navy and white maillot marinière paired with a navy wrap skirt looked particularly chic and so did a cropped navy blazer with gold captain buttons. Red made an appearance too but it was the quieter navy pieces that really struck a chord, like a white linen basketweave tank dress frayed at the hem or the perfect simple navy sweater, shown here with a pair of loose silk trousers whose side splits revealed a bateau print, or a butter-soft tan leather skirt. Expect to see the finale gowns, long and lean in red or blue, cutting away at the body like a swimsuit with finely pleated skirts, or the shirting stripe ones made out of humble cotton broadcloth, at a red carpet in the French Riviera next summer. If you don’t, it will be, how do the French say it, sacrilège!