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The expansive grounds of the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino were the cinematic setting for legendary fashion designer Ralph Lauren’s first West Coast runway show on Thursday evening, Oct. 13. On the catwalk, a diverse array of over 100 models showcased his Spring 2023 men’s, women’s and kids’ looks spanning Collection, Purple Label, Double RL and Polo Ralph Lauren. The California event brought the brand full circle, given that Lauren opened his first stand-alone Polo Ralph Lauren boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in 1971, after launching his company in 1967.
Front and center in the audience were Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. (Lauren created three elaborate custom bridal gowns for Lopez to wear to the couple’s wedding celebration in Georgia in late August). Also in the mix for the show and an alfresco dinner were Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, John Legend, Laura Dern, Diane Keaton (who Lauren famously dressed in Annie Hall), Jessica Chastain and husband Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, James Marsden, Robin Wright, Lily Collins, Tell Me Lies co-stars Grace Van Patten and Jackson James White, and Sylvester Stallone with Jennifer Flavin and their daughters.
The entire Lauren family was on site for the occasion including Ralph and his wife Ricky, daughter Dylan, son David with wife Lauren Bush Lauren, son Andrew, and nephew Greg Lauren (who designs his own namesake fashion label in L.A.) with wife Elizabeth Berkley.
Lauren (who turns 83 today, Oct. 14) said in a statement: “I have always been inspired by the natural beauty, the heritage, and glamour of the West Coast of America. California has always been a land of dreams and contradictions — rugged coasts and red carpets. For the first time ever, I bring my dream of living here, sharing my worlds in an experience that celebrates a way of life I have always believed in — a mix of grit and glamour, energy and inspiration.”
His son, David Lauren, talked to THR as he walked from the show to the dinner: “It is my father’s birthday tomorrow — total coincidence. It’s very exciting to be here. The West Coast has always inspired him, and we’ve done so much inspired by California. But the show really was about his vision of the world that should be and his vision of what is beautiful today. My father always says that he’s making movies. He’s one of the few designers who doesn’t just look at a dress or a fabric or a fit. He’s looking at a story and an attitude and a spirit. These are all characters in his movie. And he builds out of a movie and he builds out the dream, and that’s unusual in how fashion shows are put together. So bringing it here is almost an experience. Our advertisements and these shows are ways that he’s enveloped the customers. In fact, he did the clothes for Annie Hall and The Great Gatsby, but he’s also created movies in a way that has inspired filmmakers for years.”
Greg Lauren also stopped to speak to THR about his uncle’s presentation: “It was a really special night, a very celebratory night. And I know that he wanted to do this. I think it was really exciting to have someone like my uncle come here and put on such a massive show. For me, as a designer living in L.A. and seeing so many incredible voices and creative talents based out of L.A., I think it sends a message that Los Angeles is an important source of ideas and innovation. It’s no longer an emerging scene. L.A. is the center of it now. The show felt very much like California seen through his eyes and his vision and the history of what he’s done.”
The presentation unfolded in time-honored chapters that spanned Ralph Lauren’s aspirational Americana playbook as models walked to the beat of on-theme songs such as “California Girls” and “Ventura Highway.” First was “Rugged West.” Driven by workwear and Western references, the signature mashup of Double RL denim and leather with romantic ruffles and florals was accessorized with tooled leather bags, concho belts, Western boots, long layered necklaces, and a covetable collection of hats — Lopez also topped off her look with one.
This was followed by polished prep mingling with red carpet-ready looks from Purple Label and Collection. The color stories were cream-tan-metallic “Coastal Elegance” (a luxe textural mix including linen, silk and cashmere; pearl jewelry; fresh riffs on spectator shoes; and two statement gold gowns) and crisp red, white and blue “Seaside Glamour” (berets and nautical nods, glittery sequined pieces, a colorful paint-splash print, chandelier earrings, and teetering wedge sandals.) Peppered in were some impeccable silk tuxedo looks (for him and her) and graceful gowns.
Next came a catapult of color with a spirited, sporty vibe from Polo Ralph Lauren as kids joined the runway, holding hands with adult models in family groupings for “West Coast Charm” and “The Nature of Style.” The Great Gatsby met Annie Hall as tailored Ralph wardrobe classics, plus pocket chains, ribbon belts and ties, were worn by all and layered with sportif chic. Think cricket sweaters, rugby shirts, crochet bucket hats, neon hiking boots, backpacks and colorblock sneakers. The vibrant palette progressed as the looks moved into adventure gear, accessorized with skateboards and racquets. The styling was an art here, as preppy madras plaid met stripes and argyle; or glenplaid suiting was paired with a repp stripe tie, a checked button-front, a Day-Glo puffer jacket, baseball cap and sneakers.
A bold “Crescendo of Color” closed out the California show, culminating in five beautifully flowy women’s looks ready to set sail onto a red carpet. The fresh tonal looks — a brilliant orange gown and second-skin bodysuits paired with ballgown skirts in berry, orange, yellow and red — were all crafted from water-repellent silk taffeta and stitched with nautical detailing, inspired by catamaran sails, according to show notes.
“Ralph Lauren is an iconic American gift and legend,” Dern told THR just after the show, as she chatted with Berkley and other friends. “Western inspiration, Gatsby inspiration, music-skate culture inspiration. I mean, it’s really all of America. It was amazing!”
Kutcher told THR: “I think about the brands that are in America today and it’s like Coca-Cola, Nike, Ralph Lauren. In fashion, it’s Ralph Lauren. He continues to define what American fashion is, from elegance to lifestyle to sport. This was just an absolutely pure representation of Americana.”
On the dinner menu were Mr. Lauren’s favorite dishes from The Polo Bar restaurant in New York — the choice of a burger, veggie burger or grilled branzino along with Ralph’s Salad, a selection of his favorite desserts, white wine and house cocktails.
“It’s amazing!” Legend told THR regarding the evening. “He brought me to a new place. I’ve never been here before. I live here in Beverly Hills but I’ve never been to this part of the L.A. area and it’s just a gorgeous place. It felt really dreamy. I love the use of ‘California Dreaming’ as a motif. The soundtrack was great. I loved hearing the ‘California Dreamin’ cover. I thought that was perfect to introduce him being on the West Coast. And I thought the show was beautiful. It was really well done. We were just talking about how Ralph has been at it for over 50 years. It’s just incredible how relevant he remains. It really is art. It’s about pacing and staging and the flow. They really did it right tonight.” Pointing to the polka dot and striped Ralph Lauren look he was wearing, Legend said, laughing, “It’s a shawl-collar robe, so it’s like I’m home and out at the same time!”
Scroll on for more photos from Ralph Lauren’s first-ever West Coast fashion show:
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