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Saturday, 19 September 2009

Ralph Lauren Stuns Fashion Scene with Depression-Era Duds

With the first hints of autumn breezes and thoughts about pulling out that basic coat or shopping for a new one, an entire world of fashion comes to life, bustling with an intensity and energy that's been soundly hibernating throughout the summer season. One of the most famous and highly anticipated trademarks of this yearly shift is the stir of the New York fashion scene, with a wide selection of shows and special events putting on the ritz for the first time in many months. This year, shows exhibiting collections intended for Spring and Summer 2010 were full of flirty elements like short skirts and creative fabrics, and many critics noted that the industry was seemingly turning a blind eye to the difficulties it has faced in recent months at the hands of the economic crisis in America (with a pointed caveat for the strong focus given to decadent and more affordable accessories like bags, shoes, scarves, and –you guessed it-- costume jewellery). But one designer has decidedly put the brakes on the carefree fashion craze with a strong statement about hard times.
Ralph Lauren, a designer much loved for simple, comfortable, and effortlessly fashionable wardrobe and home furnishing basics, turned many heads and raised quite a few eyebrows with his recent show at the Spring 2010 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. It wasn't that his collection was particularly far-flung, or comprised a steep departure from his signature look and feel. Rather, the reflection on Great Depression-era styles and themes left audiences unable to escape from the reality of the present, nor from the lessons and wisdom of the past.
Denim was the start of Lauren's show, with a number of different textures, dyes, and washes on display. But these denim pieces, in shorts, pants, overalls, and tops, weren't the stuff of most clean and neat designer pieces dominating runways and billboards today. The show featured jeans ripped and worn beyond the point of a mere suggestion of previous wear; the look of hard work and dire times was clearly displayed throughout the collection as frays and other tastefully-placed aberrations worked their way around the cut-up clothes. Paired with basic work shirts and vests, tanned leather pieces and unlikely crystal-studded accessories, the collection gained praise and criticism alike from onlookers, none of whom were able to conceal their surprise.
With occasional pieces in floral gauze and more dramatic lame, Lauren hinted at breezier times ahead, and showed a dedication to the simple elegance for which he's always been appreciated. Such items, along with the rhinestones brimming with Swarovski-esque light and delicate, barely-there straps, provide a link back to the potential of the future and the ever-present hope of a fashion culture that has shown, through Lauren's representation, that being true to the hard facts of life doesn't mean one can't look chic and stylish.

a Ralph Lauren model

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