One cannot accuse Ralph Lauren of not being willing to try new things. Earlier this week, he put off his Polo exhibition until night and held it in Central Park. He has been experimenting with projecting images onto different surfaces and thought that, rather than a live runway, projecting video of models onto a fountain would be something spectacular and different. While the event was definitely different, they failed to allow for the fact that water is very light weight and the slightest breeze causes it to move. So, the entire video looked blurred. Images were almost impossible to see and no one could get a decent impression of the clothes. Still, one has to give Lauren credit for trying.

For the showing of his main line this morning, the storied designer took a much safer approach with a much more traditional catwalk. What he sent down that runway, however, wasn’t quite so traditional. No soft collars or white poplin button down shirts. Instead, Lauren takes us on a safari this season, with a line of clothes that plays to a theme, to be sure, but is also very comfortable and, for the most part, very practical.

Some of the things in this collection are what one might expect from a safari themed collection. Khaki in tan and putrid green (sorry, I really don’t like the color) was the dominant look for the show. Cargo pockets seemed to be just about everywhere because, you know, one has to carry a lot of stuff into the jungle, even if that jungle is made of concrete.

What was more surprising was the opulence of jewels, sometimes taking over entire tops all the up the next. Do countless strands of crystal really go with Khaki? They do now. Lauren managed to take one of the most casual looks ever conceived and dress it up to the point it could work for even the most formal of events. The ultimate was when he took the look, admittedly not done in Khaki but still strongly carrying the safari aesthetic, all the way to a long, formal gown. I’m not sure exactly upon which red carpet this look might be appropriate, but should perhaps someone reboot the Indiana Jones series (it could happen) then this gown is ready to go.

Not everything was Khaki, of course. There were beautiful pink and yellow and an especially impressive set of white pieces coming down the runway as well. You know you just must have a bright purple vest covered in cargo pockets. And there’s a dark tan cape-like thing going in one look that, assuming one can figure out exactly how it works, looked incredibly cool coming down the runway. Ralph Lauren has never been afraid of bright colors and he’s managed to weave them into this safari theme with impressive deftness.

Worth noting: while the silhouettes on the tops and jackets are necessarily loose, many of the pants and pencil skirts are excessively fitting. We’re talking a very lean look below the waist on several, though admittedly not all, looks. Fortunately, Lauren keeps the waist line down so shorter women shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding something that fits.

I can easily imagine this collection being one of the best selling sets the Ralph Lauren label has seen in quite some time. There is enough diversity in the looks, both in terms of style and fabrics, to bring back a number of women who haven’t given the label serious consideration since the mid-1980s. More importantly, though, it is could to see the designer still willing to experiment, to play with new fabrics, and make his trademark sense of style applicable to a new generation. This is a fantastic collection all set and ready to capture whatever prey one might wish to stalk.

Photo credit: Gio Staiano


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