Show report: Ralph Lauren A/W12

Ralph Lauren reworks aristocratic chic in an opulent ode to Downton Abbey on the closing day of New York fashion week

The music was the first clue that Ralph Lauren was about to plunder English stately homes for Autumn/Winter 12 – John Lunn’s beautiful score to Downton Abbey played as models took to the catwalk in a throw-it-all-together take on aristocratic British style.

The vast chandeliers and glossy parquet floor were another sign that Lauren was, like the rest of America, in the grip of Downton fever. In the opening look alone the designer combined a dark brown felt cloche hat, fairisle sweater, crisp shirt and plaid tie, tweed jacket, brown breeches, long Argyle socks and high-heeled lace-up brogues.

Lauren followed this with variations on plaid and tweed suits and a section dedicated to pinstripe suits, Prince of Wales check overcoats, neat little bowler hats and black croc mini briefcases – it all looked as though the design team chez Lauren were thinking about what the Earl of Grantham might wear for a quick jaunt into the city on business.

It’s a typically over the top take but then Ralph Lauren has built his 45 year career and his billion dollar global brand on mimicking the lives of the priviledged and it’s rarely subtle. It’s also timely as plans are already underway to produce an American version of the hugely successful TV drama.

The second half of the show which was almost entirely black and gold was more contemporary – clothes that the young Crawley sisters might wear a century on – slick velvet tux suits, slender shift dresses and a series of beaded and charmeuse gowns.

The sleekest pieces here worked best – you could almost imagine a Miss Crawley wearing the clingy black jersey bodysuit and crepe palazzo pants and a collar of jewels and golden feathers to dinner at Highclere House.

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