Ralph Lauren wants his brand to be a part of life - he wants the clothes he makes to add colour to a grey day; add spice to an otherwise bland trip.
For him the clothes he designs are there to help you enjoy “the fullness of the life around you”, and this particular spark was shown in abundance at his 50th anniversary show during New York Fashion Week. No stone was left unturned – from the clothes and the FROW, and from the location to after- party, resulting in a thoroughly heart-warming, and American night.
The show was more than a greatest hits collection; it represented all the that brand aims to achieve- not clothes that dart in and out of style, but ones that can remain in your wardrobe forever. There were staples that made the brand what it is today – plaid, leather, and hardware, to name just some moments. Not only was it Ralph Lauren, but there was also a Polo section, which really exhibited the breath of the fashion on offer at the house. It seemed like Ralph in its most saturated form; an elixir of emotion, dedication and pure Americana. Among the clothes on offer there was the perfect pinstriped suit, tailored to fit like a glove, all American sportswear and a show stopping patchwork finale dress worn by fledgling supermodel Gigi Hadid. Her casting, in itself, shows so much of what Ralph Lauren has had a command of, over the last fifty years – quintessentially wholesome all-American beauty. But it wasn’t just Gigi who was eye catching on the runway, as there was also a host of toddlers strutting their stuff for the first time.[pullquote]Lauren has always drawn such an assorted crew of people because this is not a brand that has ever tried to be a trend-chaser[/pullquote]
Another key aspect of this show, and of the brand’s ethos is diversity; whether that be skin colour or age, Ralph Lauren has always seen itself as inclusive – it’s for the everyman and woman, as well as those in high fashion. It was this line of thought that Oprah Winfrey called on in her toast at the dinner after, saying that when she first started, before she was THE Oprah her “idea of celebrating success wasn’t to go out and get a fancy car or jewelry. It was a closet full of Ralph Lauren towels . . . they represented a sense of comfort, luxury, aspiration.”
The FROW was yet another reminder of Ralph Lauren’s prowess; it was dappled with a varied cast of people; from the coolest millennials (Chance the Rapper, Blake Lively), to a great stalwart of American fashion designers (Donna Karen and Calvin Klein). There were even politicians of the past and possibly the future with Hilary Clinton and Kanye West also in attendance. Lauren has always drawn such an assorted crew of people because this is not a brand that has ever tried to be a trend-chaser; it knows it place in the market and has delivered time and time again for its customer. It has never felt like they have been chasing cool because they have never been caught up in trying to get the latest hot, young designer to take charge; unlike so many other American fashion houses.
All of this comes to prove that whether it’s for Rachel in “friends” or Anna Wintour herself the charm of Ralph Lauren seems not to have wavered over the last fifty years. Of course, there have been wobbles, much like any brand (we’re looking at you Hedi Slimane and Celine) but it just comes to show that pure, aspirational Americanism doesn’t really ever go out of fashion; even when the country itself seems to be.