Fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares five key takeaways from Ralph Lauren’s autumn/winter 2022 presentation, which took place off-schedule in New York at the Museum of Modern Art.
The show was set in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City
As fashion made its definitive return to the runways this season after the pandemic, Ralph Lauren chose to wait just a few weeks more before staging his own homecoming in New York City. His show took place in the sleek surroundings of the The Museum of Modern Art, with the city’s skyline as its backdrop. And it wasn’t without hesitation. When he planned it, 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. 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.”
Joe Biden’s family was in attendance
Models including Shalom Harlow and Gigi and Bella Hadid glided down a staircase onto a mirrored floor and meandered their way through Lauren’s modernist American lounge, where guests kicked back in leather seats around coffee tables. Reflecting this designer’s universal appeal, show-goers represented every genre of show business and beyond: Jessica Chastain, Lily Collins, Janelle Monáe, Angus Cloud, Henry Golding, and – on an invitation symbolic of Lauren’s convictions – President Biden’s granddaughters Naomi Biden and Finnegan Biden. “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,” the designer said.
The collection was largely monochrome
Lauren showed a collection to match his modernist setting: predominantly black and white, it made a case for the classic and timeless allure of monochrome dressing, occasionally interrupted by punches of red. For the bold impact of his handsome women’s suits styled chicly over white shirts and black polo necks, his slinky black jumpsuits cut into graphic lines, hand-spun sweaters in pared-back Nordic patterns, and long, languid women’s coats in the fabrics of the heritage men’s wardrobe, the muted color palette and ageless spirit of the collection had a familiar and almost soothing effect in a time when that is much-needed. Lauren echoed that impression: “It’s a celebration of the timeless style of black and white emboldened in the sleek lines of tailored silhouettes,” he said.
Lauren added hints of sportswear to his formal lines
While Lauren kept things on the formal side, drawing on the reassuring language of a classic wardrobe, he couldn’t resist a few moments of sporty indulgence. Over her tuxedo, Vittoria Ceretti wore a hyper-elevated black wool varsity jacket with leather sleeves and the New York Yankees logo embroidered across the back. Gigi Hadid tucked a sporty black sweater with a graphic RL logo into a neat black trouser, and Lauren himself took his bow in a similarly styled look worn with black and white trainers. The collection often felt like a statement about the order and solace the traditional formal wardrobe can contribute within times of turbulence, but this is, after all, the designer who normalized the infiltration of sportswear into our everyday wardrobes.
He introduced new accessories and jazzed up his classics
Embellishing his black and white proposals, Lauren debuted a string of new accessories that walked the tightrope between daytime glamour and evening pizzazz. A new Doctor bag in alligator with gold hardware easily nailed the former category, backed up by Deco Frame bags in velvet or calfskin with delicate embroideries. The classic Ricky – named after the designer’s wife – was reinterpreted as a clutch and adorned with gold monogram stitching. Lauren complemented his monochrome palette with two-tone spectator shoes harking back to the golden age of New York, finished off his evening silhouettes with velvet pumps and sandals, and shook up his black and white ball with the occasional glossy riding boot trimmed with scarlet leather.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk