New York Fashion Week: Ralph Lauren autumn/winter 2012
American designer Ralph Lauren looked to English country style for his latest collection.
Downton Abbey has become cult television obsession in the US: going by the evidence of his Autumn 2012 fashion show, Ralph Lauren is one of its transatlantic fans.
For a large proportion of this collection - presented on a squeaky, specially-layed parquet floor so highly polished that one model slipped on her jewel-encrusted heels - was a loving riff on classic English country clothing.
Much of it was masculine, particularly the gentlemanly three piece suits and Ulter-style coats that would have graced a John Buchan hero (brogue high heels nothwithstanding), worn with flat-caps, bowlers and even the odd topper too. There were Jermyn Street-perfect smoking jackets worn over wide-legged trousers and crocodile boots, and City style chalk-stripe suits accessorised with crocodile briefcases.
America's most powerful designer, Lauren regularly returns to the classic themes that have become his touchstones - but he is never too fastidious about sticking to them. Here he momentarily left Downton Abbey for The Wild One , by dropping in fur-collared and golden-curclicued biker jackets. And just occasionally tailoring was rejected for a more informal, feminine English aesthetic - some check cashmere jodphurs with Fair Isle knits, argyle socks and a tightly tailored herringbone jacket was a gleefully pattern-clashing look.
Then, after two vibrantly-coloured velvet suits, came the 'Lady Mary' section: a resolutely chic outpouring of predominantly black evening and day wear accented by the odd sparkle of gold or silver. A devastating procession of little black dresses and pencil skirt/jacket combos came with subtle attention-grabbing details including open panels at the shoulder blades or a sprinkle of gold beading at the neckline.
The final assault of feather-strewn, chiffon-wisping, glittery-beaded cocktail gowns partnered with golden, stone-studded jewellery and shoes was perfect attire for retiring next door after dinner while the men smoke their cigars in convivial, country-house peace.