Ralph Lauren: Red, White, and ‘Bleu’

It’s hardly a secret that Ralph Lauren is an avowed Francophile but I guess you could say he confirmed what we already know with his Thursday morning spring 2016 show held at Skylight Clarkson. He took his bow looking dapper in a navy double breasted gold buttoned blazer to the sound of Frank Sinatra belting out, “I love Paris”.

 Saddle leather jacket navy linen shirt saddle cropped pant
tan sail cork platform with stripe webbing

And while saddle leather made an appearance (by way of a fabulously tailored pantsuit, trench blouse, biker jacket, some handsome handbags), as well as tan calf totes and sandals (including cork platforms which have officially made a comeback this season), the majority of the 48 piece collection (his most abbreviated in memory), was played out in different combinations of red, white, and blue, or should I say, ‘bleu’ (both navy and cobalt).

Blue white striped luxe cotton shirt bright  red silk top navy
silk cady pant

Of course, this is a color combination that is also American to the core, and admittedly, it can sometimes look hokey and obvious. But leave it to Ralph to make it look classy, chic, timeless, and freshly appealing. Really, isn’t it how you want to look in the spring and summer, especially if you’re lucky enough to be by the water or on a yacht off the South of France (or have to make do with South Jersey)? In case you ‘missed’ the boat (bateau) connection (figuratively!), a colorful and graphic sailboat print in white, red, cobalt, and yellow, was printed on to the side of a pair of wide legged pants and was used for an oversized cotton canvas tote, and completely covered a cotton sateen trench.

Navy ivory silk mockneck ivory silk pant  bateau printed
canvas turnlock tote

While there were some fitted, body conscious pieces, there was a sporty ease to the majority of his shapes and proportions. The collection was built around a fuller pant (that can best be described as a luxurious jogging pant), jumpsuits, bias cut skirts, pleated dresses, silk and cashmere knits, and button down shirts, which looked especially crisp when they showed up in blue and white stripes.

Navy white stripe luxe cotton shirt blue  cashmere cable knit sweater
 ivory silk organza embroidered skirt

He apparently loves them so much, he not only showed them as basics, but in more surprising ways (a Ralph signature). For instance, in one case, he added a blue cashmere cable sweater and a long ivory silk organza embroidered skirt, and he turned them into three long shirting stripe gowns and a wide legged jumpsuit for his finale.

DKNY: A New York State of Mind

DKNY Spring 2016
Photo Marilyn Kirschner

I have lived downtown (just blocks from One World Trade in fact) for about 13 years. If you had told me when I first moved down here (a year after the 9/11 attacks) that this area would be rebuilt the way it has and become a true destination; that Conde Nast would relocate here from their midtown digs; or that two major fashion shows (during New York Fashion Week) would be staged here, I would ask what you were smoking. But that has come to pass. First there was Riccardo Tisci’s 9/11 extravaganza at Pier 26, and on Wednesday afternoon.Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, who head up the popular CFDA Award winning label Public School, unveiled their vision for DKNY, in their double roles as creative directors for this line.

Down the escalator to get to the DKNY show
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

The invitation named the venue as The West Gallery, Brookfield Place, which admittedly, was not the easiest place to find, for many (including me, and I know my way around). But I had never been downstairs at the PATH station beneath One World Trade. Taking the steep escalators down to the below ground level space and mingling with tourists and commuters, could not have been a more different and less rarified experience than heading into the Frick Museum for Carolina Herrera’s show on Monday (lol). And as you would imagine, security was tighter than tight.

Charcoal grey and white pinstripe wool asymmetrical
wrap dress and white poplin pleats
Photo: Vogue.com

But given that this is a label which was initially inspired by and built around its gritty urban New York roots, there could not possibly have been a more fitting (and symbolic) venue. The large, vast, tunnel like show space is not being used for anything at the moment but it will eventually be utilized for transporting commuters and everyone else, from one side of West Street to the other. In addition to moi, I would venture to say that the Conde Nast editors, who are now ensconced in One World Trade, are most assuredly the only ones who did not mind this choice, as we only had to walk a few steps or blocks, in order to get there.

Cement grey wool tailored jacket cement grey
wool  tailored jumpsuit
Photo: Vogue.com

As for the 42 piece collection, let’s just say, it was pretty much what one would expect. And while at times, things got a bit too tricky, contrived and artsy (the photo printed pieces), for the most part, yes, it did stay true to Donna Karan, and DKNY (streetwise, slouchy, a play of masculine vs. feminine). There was a touch of navy and blue, but the collection was almost entirely played out in the ultra-urban palette of black, white, and grey (charcoal and cement). Pinstripes (shown in both grey and white and black and white) were one of the important recurring themes and in fact, the opening look which set the tone for what was to follow, was a grey and white pinstripe wool tailored jacket worn over a white cotton crepe jersey bodysuit. The use of a white cotton crepe jersey bodysuit (and a group of sarong skirts) was an obvious homage to Donna, who employed them as the foundation of her landmark 7 Easy Piece Collection in 1985.

Charcoal grey and white pinstripe wool tailored  jacket
white cotton stretch crepe bodysuit
Photo: Vogue.com

The notion of ‘tailored’ was another key element here. There were tailored jackets, tailored dresses, tailored shorts, and tailored jumpsuits. On every model’s legs were sheer black anklets worn with a pointy toed black leather low heeled boot shoe.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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