It was September 2019 when Ralph Lauren invited us all to “Ralph’s Club” and Janelle Monáe charmed absolutely everyone with a sparkling rendition of “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” Two and a half years later the world is a different place; for starters, New York has a new mayor, Eric Adams. But you know what hasn’t changed? Lauren’s vision of the good life. For his comeback show at the Museum of Modern Art, Lauren recreated his Fifth Avenue living room, down to the steel-armed lounge chairs, coffee table books, and black-and-white photos on the walls depicting his real-life Central Park views. Adams and Monáe were in the audience, joined by Jessica Chastain and Lily Collins.
You don’t get to your sixth decade in business by waffling, and at 82 Lauren’s signatures are well-established. “I wasn’t catering to some lady somewhere, or some guy,” he told Vogue in 2019. “I was catering to myself.” His new collection for fall touched on many of his famous signatures, starting with Gigi Hadid’s opening look: a monogram sweater tucked into trim pleated pants accessorized by spectator heels and an oversized Ricky bag.
From that beginning, there was a passage devoted to classic black-and-white tailoring; an après-ski section that saw a bejeweled Fair Isle sweater paired with a floor-length skirt; a few looks devoted to the very Ralph pastime of horseback riding, to lift the name of the 2019 HBO documentary of his life; and a high evening series that read like a love letter to New York, not least of all a black column dress with the skyline picked out in crystals.
Driving home the timelessness and elegance of all of it was Lauren’s multigenerational cast: Shalom Harlow and Laetitia Casta mixed with newcomers, and Tyson Beckford, the face of many a 1990s Ralph Lauren campaign, took a lap of his own, stopping to shake the hand of the designer’s brother Jerry along the way. A special shout-out to the young model who carried his Gilded Age tailcoat with such aplomb.
In fact, Lauren’s vision is more expansive than it was before the pandemic and the racial justice reckoning of 2020. Last week, the brand unveiled a new collection, Polo Ralph Lauren Exclusively for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, that reimagines the collegiate prep look that is so much a part of his repertoire in a more inclusive fashion. It follows the $2 million pledge that the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation made last year to support scholarships for students at 12 historically Black colleges and universities across the country.
For the show’s finale, Vittoria Cerreti came out in a black tux with a Yankees cap on her head and a baseball jacket tossed over her shoulders. It was a nod to Lauren’s Bronx boyhood stomping grounds, but the alignment didn’t fail to telegraph another detail. The Yankees and Ralph Lauren are both American institutions.