Ralph Lauren’s first ‘see now, buy now’ catwalk show a stunningly elegant display

American designer commandeers a stretch of Madison Avenue for New York Fashion Week autumn/winter show that turned cowboy and Indian look into preppy cool, then throws open doors to flagship store

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 3:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 3:16pm

Ralph Lauren transformed Madison Avenue into a catwalk to celebrate the launch of his first “see-now, buy-now” collection at New York Fashion Week. After a stunning display of American elegance, he threw open his candle-lit store for a champagne reception.

The 76-year-old designer, who heads a multibillion-dollar fashion and lifestyle empire and whose signature look defines modern American east coast style, is leading a fashion revolution with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Tom Ford in offering buy-now clothing, ending the time lag between catwalk and store.

It was an audacious, high-stakes show that demonstrated Lauren’s clout – he commandeered half a block of prime real estate as police set up a security cordon on the penultimate day of New York Fashion Week.

“From the very beginning I’ve always designed with you in mind. You are changing the way you live and the way you want to shop, and we are changing with you and for you,” he told the audience.

A veteran of five decades in the business, he has perfected the art of the beautiful catwalk show, presenting them as love letters to America, and the spring/summer 2017 show was no exception to the Lauren aesthetic.

Each look was applauded as it went down the catwalk and Lauren was treated to a standing ovation as he walked out, steadying himself up by reaching one hand onto a pillar as he slightly missed his step.

Standing in the middle, dressed in denim, he modestly gestured each hand towards the enormous store front window, whose curtains suddenly parted as if by magic to reveal moving images of galloping horses.

It was a stunning collection and his special blend of beautifully tailored, aristocratic European-style suiting meets Americana.

Tweets about the Ralph Lauren show

He turned the cowboy and Indian look into preppy cool with tasselled suede jackets, chunky belts, thick chokers and wide-brimmed hats on the long, lean silhouette he so loves.

There were plaid shirts, a hint of floral embroidery and bold geometric, almost tribal prints. There was stunning a vermillion one-shoulder gown, sequined cocktail dresses in yellow, pink and blue.

Lauren and his wife, Ricky, greeted guests personally through the doors of the flagship store where waiters handed out glasses of champagne. Everything seen on the catwalk was immediately available to buy.

As with Hilfiger and Ford earlier in the week, the proof will be in the sales. Their business clout and fame have allowed them to take the risk, but other design houses increasingly expect to follow.

With Marc Jacobs the only show left in New York on Thursday before the fashion pack decamps to Europe, these were the other highlights:

Rufus Wainwright injected pizzazz into Michael Kors, giving a live performance and a shout-out to Hillary Clinton as actresses Emily Blunt and Sienna Miller sat front row.

The singer opened with Judy Garland’s Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart and closed with Get Happy as A-list models Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Joan Smalls among others those showed off Kors’ designs.

It was a spring 2017 collection that Kors summed up as “powerful romance” and featured a stunning array of contrasting floral patterns: pink, red and orange, or blue, green and white.

A select number of pieces from his collection are being marketed as “see-now, buy-now,” including his sweater with LOVE printed on the front, and a white embroidered pullover and stretch pencil skirt.

Floral prints are a hot spring seasonal trend and the Spanish label Delpozo put them front and centre in a show inspired by luminosity.

“I am an architect (by training),” designer Josep Font said. “I’m all the time linking in terms of structure and volume. Its part of the DNA of the brand, the colours, the fabrics, the volume.”

Red carpet favorite Marchesa, set up by Keren Craig and British-born Georgina Chapman – second wife of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – unveiled a collection of evening wear dripping in luxury.

Inspired from the break of dawn to twilight, there were on-trend petal embroideries on barely-there nude gauze, corset bodices, Grecian gowns in soft pleats and mult-coloured tulle in blush.

Anna Sui also made great use of geometric prints and tassels, blended in a riot of color, texture and florals to reflect the high-energy, psychedelic almost hippy feel of her label.

There were delicate housecoats, sandals made to look like bedroom slippers and a play on American sportswear and the cheerleader look.