The designer launches a shipshape Caribbean-inspired collection for See Now, Buy Now immediate sales.
A peaceful holiday home with palm fronds swaying in a gentle breeze… No wonder that Ralph Lauren was inspired by his Jamaican vacation idyll, compared to the gales and rain of New York’s chilly winter.
But is it really his embrace of the ‘See Now Buy Now’ selling system that encouraged the designer to take a slow boat to the Caribbean? That might be better described as an ocean liner, its lean prow printed on a summer dress, the pattern even wrapped from front to back.
Sounds cheesy? In fact, these chapters in the show helped the designer to bring multiple races and faces to his runway in a simple way.
“I thought it was colourful – the right mood, the right sense of happiness,” the designer said backstage, after the familiar long walk down the runway, embracing friends and family, including front row stars Hilary Swank and Katie Holmes.
The colors that stood out were naval: blue and white, red and bright yellow, all looking fresh and sporty but not high-end, given the status of the brand.
The opening summer dresses, flowered or with the effect of bleached denim, had a boardwalk freshness from the last century. The fact that they were often worn by women of colour enhanced the sense of a company trying to move outside its comfort zone. But that seemed like a historic view of Caribbean bliss.
The subject of the historic ocean liner and all its social mores is currently on show at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (after a display in the US). It is always intriguing when art and commerce are a neat fit.
And providing instant fashion gratification does seem to work for some brands. I followed Ralph Lauren’s collection to Sak’s Fifth Avenue where, three hours after the morning’s client show, customers were buying outfits straight from the runway at a cocktail presentation. The ocean liners did not seem to be centre-stage on the store rails. But maybe they had already sailed away to a client in vacation mood.
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