As runways go, the one at Ralph Lauren’s fall-winter show on Thursday, the final day of New York fashion week, was a true stunner.
A well-worn but beautifully laid parquet floor, illuminated by chandeliers, ran the length of the Skylight Studio in the Soho district where Lauren sent out 57 outfits that brought the British period drama “Downton Abbey” to mind.
Into this whimsical English country house by the Hudson River appeared Fair Isle sweaters in green or taupe cashmere, brown ocelet-print shearling coats and dark brown plaid jodhpurs.
Double-breasted tweed wrap coats were enlivened with scarlet or purple gloves — or with a peacock feather tucked insouciantly into the lapel.
Silk top hats lent an air of foggy London town in the era of Sherlock Holmes when matched with tartan wool coats, black pumps or boots, and a debonair walking stick.
For more formal occasions, Lauren stuck with the classic lines that have made him a go-to designer for women across the United States, with a range of strapless and halterneck evening dresses in black, fuchsia and gold lamé.
It might be easy to dismiss Lauren’s vision as predictable, but the silver-haired 72-year-old son of an immigrant housepainter from Belarus had every reason to smile as he walked down that fine runway himself in a light grey suit and tie to acknowledge a standing ovation at the end of the show.
Two days ago, the publicly listed company that bears his name, and which includes the mass market Polo brand, forecast a better-than-expected 20 percent leap in sales this year in light of a third-quarter profit of $169 million — proof positive of Lauren’s staying power in the aristocracy of fashion.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.