Friday, February 12, 2016

Polo Ralph Lauren Fall'16

A Journey of 48 Years Began With a Single Rag

Fashion, we wear it, we sleep in it, we take it off, and we criticize it, sometimes necessarily and mercilessly, but “… [We] live [our] life in it.” And in some instances, it is truly our life, in some instances our lifestyle dictates that we are to be in fashion, like a talent offered to the few and envied by the many, fashion, true fashion, is timeless. Ralph Lauren once said “I don’t design clothes, I design dreams.”

Those who know, I mean really know and understand, the history of Ralph Lifshitz know that his is a true rags to riches story. Pun completely and wholly intended. To clue in the clueless, Ralph Lifshitz started POLO by selling scrap cloth he styled into European inspired neckties. After being approached by Neiman Marcus and selling close to 1,200 units he opened his own boutique.

It’s February 1st, 2016, New York Fashion Week is in full swing and a drawer in the Chrysler Building with POLO ties is a distant memory. Ralph Lauren, the Lifshitz name almost entirely forgotten, most likely unknown, by the contemporary “fashionista” and “drive-by-blogger” crowd, exits the elevator, surrounded by a flurry of assistants, to inspect and finalize the models for his first POLO presentation after his step-down as CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation in September of 2015. Still maintaining his position as Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer he inspects every look, quietly contemplating every curve, every line, every model, of the brand and lifestyle he has built. His quiet demeanor is almost out of place amidst the maddening atmosphere of preshow excitement. Ralph’s approval means everything, he walks quietly, inspecting, slightly adjusting a tuck here and there and then, once the approvals, the greetings, and the photos have been taken, just as quietly as he entered, he recedes back to his wood paneled, calf rug, contemporary southwest inspired office on a separate floor in his Madison Avenue headquarters. Tomorrow, one of the most famous designers in the world, will once again present his collection for approval to the undeserving and, for the most part, uncaring masses.

It’s now February 2nd, 2016. Ralph Lauren’s POLO presentation took place at the Madison Ave showroom and the POLO bar. Unlike his previous, more colorful collection, this presentation alluded to the fundamentals and roots that Ralph Lauren is best known for. Whether or not this was a coincidence, considering the changes that are occurring within the company, or simply a successful attempt at comfort, the end result was a gorgeous blending of off the shoulder knits, woven “slouchy” caps, fitted pants, boho style bags, and southwest inspired, geometrically patterned, ponchos. The collection was every bit ready to wear. The meticulous utilization of textures and subdued colors was undeniably Lauren. The steel gray woven sport coats, leather jackets, and oversized overcoats hung perfectly over the well-tailored tops and sport-inspired pants. It should be noted that the Ralph Lauren fashion house is going through a streamlining of brands. Up until recently Ralph Lauren represented the POLO, Purple Label, Black Label, and RLX. As it stands Ralph Lauren Black Label is now being successfully absorbed into the Purple label.  Up until today’s presentation, this was most visible through Black Label for men. After today the successful merging of the two unique styles will be visible across the entirety of the collections as it is very obvious that instances of the Black Label have made their way to POLO for women. This is a repositioning that is both visually stunning and will no doubt prove to be financially profitable.

It is often difficult to judge a successful collection appropriately. Often the details behind each stitch and material are overlooked. Many times the designer outright tell us where the inspiration comes from, however there is something that is always lost in translation. After all, inspiration, the perception of it, the interpretation of it, the actualization of that first thought and idea can only be truly real to one person. Ralph Lauren, inarguably, one of the most successful designers in the world is no different. His superb collection can only be judged on the surface. To truly know it and to really understand the why is a secret only one person will ever know. In the meantime the designs so artistically created can be appreciated for what they are, works of art we live our life in. “My father was an artist. When life was harder and he couldn't get jobs, he painted houses, but he was artistic. When I went to see his work, it was special. Somewhere along the line, I felt I was special. I didn't know why.” – Ralph Lauren

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