On a mission to quicken the Big Apple’s economic recovery, New York City’s freshly installed mayor, Eric Adams, was among those attending at Ralph Lauren’s first physical fashion show since the pandemic at the Museum of Modern Art.
Adams posed with Anna Wintour, in her customary dark glasses, and tweeted after Tuesday night’s show that his attendance had been conceived to “celebrate the groundbreaking work of @RalphLauren and to send a clear message: #NYCisBack!”.
Devised months ago, with an optimistic mood and hoped-for return to normality in mind, the set was a sleek, monochrome recreation of the designer’s Manhattan residence. Actors including Lily Collins and Jessica Chastain sat in the audience, with supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid, Shalom Harlow and Tyson Beckford on the catwalk.
Clothes were designed for cocktail hour and the boardroom, ranging from shimmering cut out dresses to houndstooth and checked Annie Hall-style layered suiting. The final look was not a wedding dress, as has sometimes been customary, but a New York Yankees baseball cap and varsity jacket worn over a tuxedo.
These were ideal clothes for a longed-for return to carefree city life, a dream that felt a lot closer a few months ago when the event was conceived, said Lauren, in notes distributed at the show.
A few months ago, he said: “there was no war in Ukraine. The tragedy and devastation we are witnessing now was unthinkable. Back then all I could think about was coming back together with my teams and all of you to share the hopefulness that collaboration and creativity can inspire. So, in the midst of this sadness, we go forward united in our hope for peace, and our hope for the end of this pandemic and a return to being together. I am so proud to be with you again sharing not only a collection, but an optimism for living that respects the dignity of all”.
Frequently held up as the living embodiment of the American Dream, Lauren caused few surprises by using his return to the catwalk to celebrate New York City. The son of Jewish immigrant parents from Belarus, who grew up in Queens in relative poverty as Ralph Lipschitz, Lauren launched his own fashion line in 1967 and is now, at the age of 82, worth $7.2bn. The themes of his work mirror his life story, exploring Americana and taking tropes associated with an “old money” lifestyle – most famously polo shirts – and selling them widely.
Last week, Ralph Lauren’s Polo line unveiled a well-received collaboration with two historically black universities – Morehouse College and Spelman College – comprising of varsity jackets, logo sweaters and three piece suits. The collection, modelled by an all-black cast of students, was inspired by a conversation with a Lauren employee, design director James Jeter, who is a Morehouse graduate, during the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020.
Lauren said it was “about sharing a more complete and authentic portrait of American style and of the American dream – ensuring stories of Black life and experiences are embedded in the inspiration and aspiration of our brand.”
Along with brands such as H&M, Hermes and Prada, Ralph Lauren label announced it would pause all operations in Russia on 7 March.