The New Yorker presented his Spring 2023 collection to a crowd of stars, under the stars at The Huntington Library
Words by ANDREW BARKER
Despite opening his first store on Rodeo Drive in 1971, it took the Bronx-born Ralph Lauren more than 50 years to stage a fashion show on the West Coast—and it was well worth the wait. Oscar winners Diane Keaton, Jessica Chastain and Laura Dern rubbed shoulders with musical greats including Jennifer Lopez and John Legend in a grand spectacle not seen since the brand built a runway in Central Park, Manhattan, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Of the multitude of looks drawing from the various Ralph Lauren lines—Collection, RRL, Polo Ralph Lauren, Purple Label and Childrenswear—there were many crowd pleasers: cowboy hats and distressed denim kicked things off, fashions whose roots date back to the Gold Rush and ranchers of the Wild West. There was prep aplenty, both classic and modern, with tweed and pinstripes layered to perfection alongside signature button-downs, sweater vests and berets, an homage to those legendary looks of the ’80s and ’90s the brand was built on. Nylon gowns replete with trains countered the casual, bringing red carpet glamour to the broad collection, and the Polo section was a complete ode to California. Deftly styled, bright chinos and navy blazers were teamed with bucket hats, beads and pants tucked into socks—a celebration of the surf and skate culture synonymous with the Golden State shores.
Among the 120 models making their way down the marble steps was a mixture of supermodel favorites such as Shalom Harlowe, Simon Nessman and Angela Lindvall, and cute-as-a-button faces of the future smiling and waving as they modeled the kidswear. There was even a pair of young twin girls Ralph himself spotted in a restaurant mere days before and street cast there and then. They were apparently on a road trip to San Diego.
A cover version of “California Dreaming” by Sia played as the first models stepped through the rear facade of The Huntington Library (built in 1911 by railroad tycoon Henry Huntington in the Beaux Arts period) through the front row benches and rattan chairs lined with monogrammed pillows. This segued into Neil Diamond’s “I Am … I Said,” which features the apposite lyric “but nowadays I’m lost between two shores. L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home. New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more,” somewhat cementing the fact that this is only the beginning for the brand’s next moves here on the West Coast.
To close the show the models gathered on the steps to create a tableau to end them all, a social media showstopper live-fed by the TikTokers and influencers in attendance. On the eve of his 83rd birthday, with tears in his eyes, the designer stepped out in a trademark cashmere turtleneck and thanked the 200-strong crowd of celebrities, editors and loyal customers (jetted in from multiple continents). After a standing ovation, they made their way to the candlelit tables by the historic rose garden for a dinner of burgers and branzino, courtesy of the Polo Bar.
A crowning moment for the brand and one for California fashion’s history books.
October 18, 2022
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