Ralph Lauren designed this fall collection long before the country went into lockdown. In fact he’d already conceived of his show before the world was turned upside down and inside out by COVID-19. The now-canceled presentation he’d envisaged would have taken place at a lofty gallery space stripped bare of the cinematic set designs he’s become known for at New York Fashion Week. That more sober mood is reflected in the first outfit of his new lookbook: a simple pointed-flat collared white shirt, a full black midi skirt fastened with a skinny black belt, and sleek black heeled knee-high boots.
Whether Lauren could have anticipated it or not, it seems now more than ever that fashion is being distilled down to the bare essentials. With nowhere to go and no one to see outside the handful in our social pod, the concept of getting dressed has become highly focused. As many work from home, it’s no surprise that the brand’s cashmere sweatsuits have been wildly successful. If anyone knows how to refine casual tropes through a luxurious lens, it’s Lauren.
With his penchant for gray flannel as a starting point, the designer doubled down on the classics for fall. Those popular cashmere hoodies and slimcut joggers were done in charcoal gray this season and paired with a matching slouchy double-breasted blazer. The brand’s beloved ’70s and ’80s menswear tailoring was tweaked to fit the demands of a modern wardrobe; hefty Harris Tweeds were replaced with tactile Italian fabrics; checkered overcoats encrusted with a twinkling layer of micro sequins.
The American designer isn’t the kind to shy away from glamour. The ever-growing circle of A-listers he’s dressed for the red carpet over five decades stands as a testament to that. This season he mined the archives further still for inspiration, reinterpreting a paisley motif from the early ’90s over body-skimming turtleneck and deep-V dresses. That said, it’s hard to imagine any of his high-profile female fans having the occasion to wear his most glittering fare, though some will surely be tempted by the louche velvet suiting for the intimate party season that lays ahead.
Dr. Jill Biden has emerged as a new Ralph Lauren favorite in recent months. She’s been seen wearing his tailored Camden jacket and showed up to her husband’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in a navy blue Lauren dress. The unfussy elegance of the designer’s latest collection is likely to be a good fit for her wardrobe on the campaign trail, and beyond.