When the talk of New York fashion week isn’t revolving around the brutal weather front, then it’s chat about newest latest happenings. That week, it had only been about one thing: the Polo Bar restaurant – Ralph Lauren’s latest opening, a cozy, dimly lit den serving the best steak in town, a stone’s throw away from the new Ralph Lauren Polo Fifth Avenue store. Woody Allen has already been, so too half of the fashion fraternity. It’s a roaring success.
What to wear there? Well, Ralph Lauren of course. In fact, any piece from his collection this morning in 50 shades of brown would fit right in to the equestrian clubhouse feel. Take ‘Truffle cashmere’ for example – it conjures good things doesn’t it? Rich, expensive-looking deliciousness, in which to pour oneself come autumn. This was a classic RL collection; from the layered knitted ensembles, reined in with a low-slung saddle leather belt, to the two-tone wool and suede ponchos, shearling coats and oatmeal flannel trousers.
Celebrity stylists would be wise to put a call in now to request that sublime black strapless gown, devastatingly beautiful in its restraint and simplicity. The woman in that dress can’t not but feel good about life.
This is exactly the sort of collection that his legions of women will shop at his Madison Avenue flagship in New York – and anywhere else in the world for that matter.
And so, with one collection Jonathan Saunders recalibrated his design career.
The first exit arrived with power and grace, an embellished black, cropped trouser, fitted underneath a black crombie coat, it was a confident first salvo for a spring collection; a statement that these clothes were operating on a season free plane, almost too arch to be bound by the rule book of seasonality, one that’s becoming increasingly outmoded.
The black look cleansed the palette beautifully and a lesson in the art of sartorial balance followed. Feminine met masculine as sweet summer tops decorated with one gathered fabric bow (the bowing and tying continued throughout in a riff on origami) were paired with tailored city shorts. Skirts were full, mid length and gathered: “It was very much about the design process and then that confident femininity that is really close to my heart, he said.”
Almost every piece had a sense of occasion, Saunders created a gentle pause half way through the show with a simple gold sheath dress. He then began flexing his instinct for texture with deep ruching on skirts and dresses.
“I worked with the most incredible Japanese mill,” he said, “on creating fabrics. A sense of lightness was the most important thing to me.”
Delicate cotton, sheath-thin shifts were printed with paper that had been painted with colour, a technique Saunders learnt at University. The Japanese influence was clear; and it felt like new territory for Saunders, even the palette of brown and camel was unexpected. This was clever, esoteric but not so much it wasn’t totally wearable. It was elevated, yet it was aspirational. And the show music? Rousing strings from the soundtrack to the Sci-Fi horror Under the Skin, and this collection did just that.