After four years, Ralph Lauren recently made a grand comeback at New York Fashion Week with his Spring/Summer 2024 collection, reminding everyone why he reigns supreme
Ralph Lauren has made a resplendent comeback, reminding us all why he stands as an enduring icon of American fashion. Yet, his absence was not a retreat into obscurity; rather, it was a period of reflection and reinvention for the designer. His last appearance on the official New York calendar dates back to September 2019. Now, this momentous event signifies not only the return of a fashion legend but also a bold statement of his continued relevance and innovation.
The designer’s vision for the event was dazzling. The show was set in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, once a hub for military ships and now a stage for fashion’s grandest theatrics. He transformed a nondescript warehouse into an enchanting artist’s studio, with just the right touch of rustic cowboy charm, reminiscent of his beloved Colorado ranch. This unique blend of opulence and down-to-earth charm created a visual spectacle.
Enormous chandeliers played a game of shadows with ladders and empty frames, all while canvas-draped walls and rustic French wood-framed seating welcomed attendees. It was almost like a movie that seemed almost too good to be real yet perfectly encapsulated the blend of grandeur and down-to-earth charm that defines the Ralph Lauren brand. Yes, when you think of Ralph Lauren, you think of “barn chic”.
Denim, the fabric of Americana, took on a new life under Ralph Lauren’s expert touch. Forget your average jeans; these were denim creations that begged the question, “How can I make denim more – something?” The answer was embroideries, ombre flowers, rhinestones, and even feathers. From casual striped shirts and jeans to the most glamorous of jackets bedecked in sparkles and feathers, this was denim like you’ve never seen before. It was tricked out, but never tricky – inventive clothes for those who appreciate a dash of decorative flourish.
Ralph Lauren paid tribute to his roots: He played with oversized belt buckles bearing his logo, using men’s neckties to create silk foulards, halter tops, sarongs, and pajama pants. It celebrated the contrasts inherent in American culture, juxtaposed down-to-earth Americana with opulent couture elements, offering a versatile wardrobe that included denim suits and dresses, cowgirl-inspired silhouettes with metallic accents, and jewel-toned draped Grecian gowns. While at times it flirted with feistiness in its combinations, this collection offered a refined approach to vibrant and flamboyant dressing.
The collection showcased Ralph Lauren’s signature tailoring with an elevated touch, as the brand aimed for higher prestige. He embodied the contradictions that fuel individuality, a central theme for the designer. These contradictions were evident in the show’s blend of rugged glamour and diverse celebrity presence, how daywear seamlessly transitioned into elegant eveningwear, as well as the fusion of the ordinary with the extraordinary, the traditional with the unorthodox, and the old with the new. The juxtaposition of elements was a key feature.
The closing look, a shimmering gold gown with a cape and one open shoulder worn by supermodel Christy Turlington, epitomized the essence of his new collection: a new American dream. In the end, he unveiled a “barn” reminiscent of Ralph Lauren’s Colorado ranch. Tables adorned with black-and-white floral cloths, heirloom roses, and charmingly mismatched flatware transformed the scene into a rustic yet glamorous dining experience. It’s true; it’s new.
Ralph Lauren’s SS24 collection was a testament to his artistry, capturing the essence of contrasts that define American culture and individuality, making it modern and diverse, like the melting pot of New York City, the new age of America. It was a glamorous journey where high fashion met the rustic, where tradition merged with unorthodox, and where Ralph Lauren’s influence shone brighter than ever.
Photos: RALPH LAUREN (via website and Instagram)