American fashion royalty Ralph Lauren raced into fall 2017 by inviting Diane Keaton, Jessica Chastain and Katie Holmes to his garage to watch a stunning runway show inspired by his passion for rare automobiles.
The 77-year-old designer, who will next year celebrate the 50th anniversary of his iconic fashion house, transported fellow designers, celebrities and editors 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Manhattan to Bedford on the penultimate day of New York Fashion Week.
There in his private garage, models sashayed down the runway sweeping past four of his priceless automobiles parked in the center watched by guests lounging on black leather banquettes before a private dinner.
Sculpted patent leather and high-gloss silk were signature materials for the Ralph Lauren woman of fall 2017. Colors were black and silver, with pops of bright red, yellow and electric blue.
Unusually giving a slew of interviews ahead of the show, it marks the third season running that Ralph Lauren has invested in the see-now, buy-now instant fashion that has scared off certain other houses.
It was the first collection since the appointment of Patrice Louvet as chief executive officer, replacing Stefan Larsson who stepped down after little over a year, following disagreements with Lauren on how to position the clothing line in the fast-changing retail universe.
In July, the firm reported a net income of $59.5 million in earnings through July 1, up from a loss of $22.3 million in the year-ago period.
The corporation announced plans in April to move into a more cost-effective e-commerce platform, closing its flagship Polo store on New York’s Fifth Avenue and saving $140 million in annual expenses.
Tuesday’s fast-paced show opened with the exhilarating roar of a sports car engine, starring supermodels of the moment Kendall Jenner in black and yellow, and Bella Hadid in a Ferrari red tulle gown.
Mimicking trends seen elsewhere on the catwalk this season — albeit with most others unveiling collections for spring/summer 2018 — there was delicate grey check, houndstooth and plaid for day wear.
– ‘Wear-now difficult’ –
There were splashes of bright yellow, and off-the-shoulder black zipped up leather.
His men’s Purple Label collection, unveiled at the same time, melded timeless black-tie-evening elegance with RL monogrammed down jackets, and sweaters and coats from the racing world.
Ferrari red was picked out in a patent trench and a silk tuxedo jacket for women. There was a stunning Ferrari yellow tulle gown — skirts to the ground paired with a black leather biker jacket.
Lauren walked out in a boiler suit for a standing ovation, lovingly giving his wife a kiss and hugging Keaton, before gesturing to all his guests to follow him into a dinner of lobster salad and burgers.
Continuing past two runway-to-retail collections, all looks from the show will be instantly accessible to consumers globally online and in flagship stores such as New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo.
“It’s wonderful if you can do it. The scheduling is not easy,” the designer told Women’s Wear Daily in a pre-show interview of his switch to instant fashion — a switch that Tom Ford has since reversed.
“Wear-now is difficult. It’s proven difficult for many people, and it’s not easy for me, either. But I thought it was interesting and I’m trying it. But the clothes are the most important thing.”
Tuesday’s collection evoked the spirit of a modern, timeless woman in the self-made billionaire’s distinctive silhouette. A mantra of his is: “Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.”
In notes to accompany the show, the designer said he saw his car collection — one of the finest in the world — as “moving art.”
“My women’s collection for fall 2017 connects the elements of the speed, style and beauty of these handcrafted vehicles with the very modern, yet timeless spirit of the clothes,” he said.
“There is a sleekness, an innate sexiness and power to shapes.”