In recent seasons, Ralph Lauren has visited Downton Abbey and exotic 1930s China as inspiration for his luxe runway lineup. For spring 2014, he travels to London, circa the swingin' '60s, for a collection that has a definite Carnaby Street vibe.
But Austin Powers, it's not.
While the iconic 73-year-old designer references some of the most obvious themes of the era — bold colors, geometric prints, short dresses, chunky heels, striped or checked suits, jaunty newsboy caps — he does in it in his own tasteful way.
At New York fashion week, the first third of the collection was all black and white as models walked to the John Lennon song, "Nobody Told Me," with the refrain, "Strange days, indeed." Lauren led off with a model in a black long-sleeved mini with a white collar worn with black knee socks and black patent Mary Janes. He followed with more mini dresses; trenchcoats; and jackets in stripes, florals and a Greek key pattern.
Lauren always does a bit of gender-bending with menswear looks; this time a three-piece black-and-white tattersall jacket, vest and slacks, with white shirt and floral tie, looked particularly snappy.
Then the collection dramatically switched gears with a series of bold, short, neon mini-dresses in yellow, green, blue, orange and red, often with matching purse and shoes. The wild colors were so bright the models had to wear shades.
Lauren traditionally closes his collection with a series of smashing evening gowns — this time in bold, unadorned colors (the closer, a strapless red gown with a floor-length cape, was a real entrance-maker) and off-white shades. For the woman who is not into gowns, he offered an off-white jumpsuit with a plunging neckline, several elegant evening tuxedos, and a Nehru jacket that manages to look surprisingly stylish.