What's The Difference Between 'Classic' and 'Boring' In Fashion?
As Leandra Medine once said, "Got to commend Ralph Lauren for always being himself!"
Okay, actually Medine (aka the Manrepeller) actually posted that on Instagram on Thursday morning right after the Ralph Lauren Spring 2014 runway show. But her back-handed compliment perfectly mirrors my reaction to the collection Ralph Lauren sent down the runway.
I imagine people will be talking a lot about this show, especially given Ralph Lauren's last few shows. Last spring, he presented a bizarre and busy "Spanish-themed" look, and for this fall, the collection was dark and sumptuous with lots of rich colors and velvet. I can already hear people congratulating him on the clean aesthetic, the brilliant simplicity, the bright colors etc.
But here's the thing: It was boring. Most Ralph Lauren shows are boring. Even last year's Spanish-themed collection was dominated by bright and solid dresses and suits. The models just wore funny hats and there was an occasional puff of ruffles. Thursday morning's show was the same thing but with minimal accessorizing.
Sure, the Ralph Lauren brand is known for being a favorite among wealthy preps and people with who enjoy "classic style." And I certainly appreciate classic fashion for its wearability and timelessness. But while a constant need to seem classic may not hurt the sales of Ralph Lauren clothing, it certainly hinders my ability to take him seriously as a designer.
As any true worshiper at the altar of style will tell you, fashion isn't just about looking good. It's about pushing the boundaries of what can be considered beautiful. Whether it comes in the form of asymmetrical Helmut Lang silhouettes, or merely in the form of a funky manicure you wouldn't have thought of yourself, the most interesting fashion tries to be new. At it's best, fashion can perfectly reflect the mood of an era and the philosophy of a generation.
I'm not saying Ralph Lauren didn't make some pretty dresses: a simple red dress looked good last year, and will still do so next year. But unlike unusually-wired swimsuits of Zimmerman or nature-inspired dresses of Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren fails to inspire.
Image: manrepeller on Instagram