THE inspiration for Ralph Lauren's autumn and winter collection of formal evening wear is drawn from an era of knights and damsels, updated with modern fabrics and touched with a liberal sprinkling of gold. 'The Collection line is inspired by the Medieval Age,' Carmen Cheng, the boutique manager, said. 'Most of the dresses are designed with a soft ruffle collar which is very high.' Fancy fabrics abound, such as silk, velvet, leather, chenille, silk crepe and mohair. They can be mixed with Lycra for stretch effects, such as black stretch silk body suits with white Elizabethan ruffle and cuffs. Two embroidered logos, a gold bullion logo and the other, formed by a snake climbing around four crosses, enhance the look. A Medieval knight's leather tunic that resembles armour goes with a white ruffled blouse and a flip skirt, while a softer tunic in jewel-toned paisley velvet with leather sleeves is completed with a big buckled belt and crusader boots. Cuts are simple, as for a hooded sheath dress in a knit Lurex with cut-away sleeves. Also in antique gold is a figure-hugging silk-knit top with a high crew neck and long sleeves. It is worn with a long black skirt in stretch mohair. Pleated lace in antique gold is crafted into a figure-hugging dress with a soft, self-coloured ruffle collar in multi-layered lace. For customers in the mid-20s and mid-30s, Ralph Lauren has a collection called Ralph. Velvet is prominent, with smooth, crinkled and stretch finishes.