The Ralph Lauren Spring 2023 show was a love letter to California, written in a different font than you may have imagined for the brand’s first West Coast Show
“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,”– Ralph Lauren, Chief Creative Officer, Ralph Lauren Corporation in a press release.
The brand selected the Huntington Library Museum and Botanical Gardens, a Southern California jewel tucked away in San Marino CA as their stage. While I adore Alessandro Michele’s decision to script Gucci’s Spring 2022 show around Old and Modern Hollywood on the Walk of Fame last year, and found Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2023 at the Salk Institute in San Diego breathtaking, The Huntington Library has a special place in my heart.
If you have ever stepped foot on the historic property brimming with priceless art from the East and West (a place I have frequented over the years), you may not immediately think “California.” It may conjure up visions of Bridgerton-style garden parties, or imagery of Marie Antoinette in 18th century drawing rooms, fit for Rococo-era salons. This image especially can be found in the eyes of Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, hanging in its priceless glory on a sage wall.
Harkening back to Ralph Lauren’s love letter, the show’s tone when read with the naked eye, was voiced in different dialects of the Golden State, but in a subtle way. One hundred models, diverse in age and background, graced the runway. Some stepped foot onto the Huntington’s burnt orange tile in sleek cowboy boots, to the rhythm of John Stewart’s “Gold.”
Stewart’s raspy serenade, “California girls are the best in the world: Each one, a song in the making,” transformed the manicured museum grounds, into the Wild West-Coast of the 20th century. The California Cowboy motifs were evident in the big buckle belts, layers of denim, and frilly white dresses. A-list guests and newlyweds Ben and Jennifer Lopez Affleck seemed to fit in, especially JLO, in her wide-brimmed hat.
“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,” said Ralph himself in a press release.
The guitar and synths of ‘70s country dissolved, in favor of the orchestral build of Sia’s “California Dreaming.” Whispers of the West Coastal Grandma (Lexi Nicoletta, who coined the term, would probably agree with my noting Diane Keaton poetically sitting front row. It’s extremely fitting, when San Marino was also the backdrop to Nancy Meyer’s Father of the Bride with Steve Martin and Keaton).
The music swelled and swept the audiences up in neutral staples, like white monochrome sets, caramel coats and turtlenecks. It was seamless then, seeing the RL preppy sportswear that is the brand’s signature, pepper the runway, mixed with French elements like berets and nautical touches. It was fresh, while remaining very Ralph: more than five decades of heritage, built on “dreaming of a better life through authenticity and timeless style.”
The final walk to Neil Diamond’s “I Am…I Said,” was the most surreal part of the whole show. The corporation and its Chief Creative Officer, Ralph Lauren decided to bring “the full breadth of the World of Ralph Lauren” to their first West Coast show, from The Ralph Lauren Collection and Purple Label, to Double RL, Polo Ralph Lauren and Childrenswear.
It was a multigenerational affair, that kept the integrity of heritage and family. It’s why the who’s who of entertainment and fashion, unanimously rose from their seats in a passionate standing ovation, as Diamond’s words carried through the speakers: “I am…. I a cried, I am… said I.”
People don’t just love Ralph Lauren the brand but Ralph Lauren the man: The down to earth, gracious and talented person who is partially responsible for pioneering American fashion, from coast to coast, and placing it permanently on the fashion world’s map.
Image Courtesy: Ralph Lauren; Photography by: Filippo Fior and NoeDewitt
Keeping it Krischic,