©Ralph Lauren

“I wanted people to go out, to enjoy themselves for a special evening,” said Ralph Lauren, dapper in a white tuxedo, as he climbed the stairway in a speakeasy-style nightclub – made over from a Wall Street bank. was a far cry from one year ago, when the Ralph Lauren empire celebrated with deep emotion its 50th anniversary uptown in Central Park. But the fashion world itself has changed: sharper, more demanding of attention and in a constant sales battle between online and physical stores.

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©Billy Farrell/ courtesy of Ralph Lauren

“Everyone wants an experience – and here it is,” said Patrice Louvet, CEO and president of the company since 2017. He was among the family coterie with Ralph’s wife Ricky Lauren wearing a sleek tailored pants suit, as were many of the in-laws.

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©Ralph Lauren
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©Ralph Lauren

You don’t get to 51 years in fashion without knowing a thing or two – and Ralph Lauren pulled off perfectly a corny idea that he made into a sophisticated collection.

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©Ralph Lauren

The concept was to give a mannish look a glaze of glamour by adding a thread of glitter to a tailored coat or a quirky touch to the classic tuxedo. There were subtle embellishments and even a little joke – the famous Polo Bear with a martini glass moved from ad land to become a sophisticated decoration. lushness of the fabrics and sensual, body-conscious shaping, brought a freshness to the very familiar concept that women look seductive with a sharp, masculine cut on a curving body. Add a black tie as soft embellishment, show the formal stiff bodice against bare skin and that cheeky, slightly timeworn, look seemed stylish and modern.

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©Ralph Lauren

Other textural play came with feather trimmings, colourful velvet cuffs and even a faux fur decoration – fluffy like an Easter chic against black velvet. Otherwise, there were a few jewel-like explosions of colour from ruby red to diamond yellow. And also, actual jewels in the form of slim, swinging earrings.

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©Ralph Lauren

But the audience was offered more than just the fashion collection. A live band, 1930s style, and the powerful voice and dancing antics of singer Janelle Monáe, turned the event into an experience. And that word became the leitmotif of the show as Cate Blanchett, in what looked like a tuxedo all-in-one, joined in the dancing.

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©Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty

With model sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid giving a sophisticated, modern edge to a familiar fashion story, the show had a streamlined and even witty glamour. There was none of the edgy sexuality of the iconic 1975 Helmut Newton image of Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo jacket – one of the first fashion looks to challenge conventional gender stereotypes. Nor was there any reference to the often ugly and angry current play on gender appropriation. The Ralph Lauren show did not go much further than reflecting the glamorous aura of 1930s nightlife under the light of a chandelier.

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©Ralph Lauren

But within the limits of the conventional concept, the show was exceedingly well done. And with all that is currently going on in our beleaguered world, it might be the best idea to face the music – and dance.