Ben Affleck wore a dark suit, while his wife, Jennifer Lopez, chose a pinstripe dress. Laura Dern was in black tie, while Sylvester Stallone wore a lightly brushed suede jacket.
On the eve of his 83rd birthday, Bronx-born Ralph Lauren, now in his seventh decade as a designer, held his first-ever show on the West Coast of the United States, in the grounds of the Huntington Library in California, and Hollywood dressed up for the event.
For founder Lauren, who remains the company’s chief creative officer and largest shareholder, the event marked a step towards becoming “the world’s premier luxury lifestyle company”, according to CEO Patrice Louvet. , who described Lauren as “so much more than a fashion designer…actually closer to a film director.”
Servers noted that the adoption of tequila-based margarita cocktails was twice as high as that of champagne flutes, traditionally favored by the fashion industry in New York and Paris.
This opulent event is part of a growing relevance of classic brands to young consumers. A combination of sustainability considerations and the rising cost of living is pushing shoppers to choose “investment” purchases that will hold up in the growing resale market, rather than spending on disposable fashion.
Resale has long been a big business at the high end of fashion, with Hermès Birkin and Chanel 2.55 handbags mostly retaining their value in-store through second and subsequent sales. But now standard-income fashion consumers without access to £5,000 handbags are eyeing a possible throwback to a £100 jacket instead. The proven longevity of Ralph Lauren and other names in casual fashion brings classic brands of late 20th century fashion up to date.
With that in mind, Lauren’s California debut doubled down on the classics, but with a nod to the modern. To remind the public that in 1977, with Diane Keaton, he gave a masterclass in flowing tailoring – half a century before the likes of Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet – he dressed male and female models in silk blouses and Bermuda shorts, double-buttoned blazers and cowboy boots. The party in the Hollywood Hills marked a milestone for Lauren, who at the age of 16 changed her name from Lifshitz to Lauren – borrowing the name from fellow New Yorker Lauren Bacall. Jewish.
It was the second of two fashion shows with which Ralph Lauren reaffirmed his stature in American fashion this year, after a three-year absence from the catwalks. In March, the designer’s New York apartment was recreated within the city’s Museum of Modern Art.
This week, the brand announced a partnership with the US Cotton Trust Protocol that it says will help the company meet its commitment to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. Conventionally grown cotton has a strong carbon footprint, due to high water consumption, soil degradation and the use of harmful chemicals. The Trust Protocol partners with 1,000 cotton farmers for best practices in soil carbon, water management and energy efficiency.
But despite its efforts to improve the cotton-growing process, Ralph Lauren also aims to keep producing more clothes, in an industry where overproduction is the main environmental problem.
The California event was the finale of a fifth impromptu fashion week of the show season. Designers Roksanda Ilinčić and Raf Simons, whose shows were postponed due to the Queen’s funeral falling during London Fashion Week, joined Alexander McQueen in staging their shows at London’s Frieze art fair this week.
“There are much bigger and more important things going on than fashion shows,” Ilinčić said of the disruption. Despite the postponement, her show retained an elegiac quality. Held in artist Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel at the Serpentine Gallery, an installation Gates described as a tribute to his late father, the exhibition was dedicated by Ilinčić to the memory of his own father.
Alexander McQueen’s parade was staged in a courtyard in Greenwich, under the same plastic bubble first erected for a parade atop an east London car park last year. The brand has built the mobile tent that can turn any outdoor location into a place without the environmental waste of temporary constructions. But the runway’s fashion titles were stolen by the return of the ultra-low-rise pants that were all the rage when house founder Lee McQueen first introduced them in 1993.