Ralph Lauren Takes Us on an Elegant Trip to the French Riviera for Spring 2016

Bring your own beret.
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Maura Brannigan
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Bring your own beret.
The Ralph Lauren spring 2016 runway show. Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images

The Ralph Lauren spring 2016 runway show. Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images

I would be remiss if I did not begin with a slight disclaimer: Until this season, I had never been to Ralph Lauren's New York Fashion Week show, and thus, I was buzzing with excitement the moment I walked into the stark white space inside Skylight Clarkson Square. A Ralph Lauren show, as I learned on Thursday morning, is a production of the highest, most sophisticated level. The preshow scene made for some excellent people-watching as everyone seemed to be there, dressed in their freshly pressed, midweek best and chatting up a storm with the other show-goers. And due to the intimate venue and strong attendance, familiar faces who regularly sit front row had been bumped to the second, third or even fourth (and last).

When the lights dimmed and the last remaining editor-types hustled into their seats, a charming French tune began to play over the loudspeakers. Out walked the first look — a crisp, all-white pants-and-blouse combination with red wedges and a newsboy cap; with the international soundtrack in mind, Lauren's très chic French holiday theme became immediately clear. As each model cascaded down the catwalk, it also became clear that no one but Lauren could interpret pristine French staples like Breton stripes and maritime blazers in such an authentically Americanized way. In many looks, a light sweater was either worn atop a blouse or around the shoulders — a layer which, I imagine, would prove to be especially helpful for those chilly, early May nights along Rhône River.

The same was true for the range's formalwear, pieces I expect to see on two front row guests — Jessica Chastain and Julianne Moore — come awards season. Billowing strapless numbers were interspersed with blue and white linen gowns, but one crimson creation with a somewhat flamboyant chest cutout stood out from the pack. The latter may have been too youthful for Moore's (notably ageless) red carpet style, but that certainly didn't stop her from eyeing it with a generous grin. 

In all, Lauren's spring 2016 offerings were less buttoned-up than what they've been in past seasons, with plenty of midriffs and low necklines complementing the full line. It was sexy, yet traditional; elegant, yet striking. Then again, only Lauren, he of such an iconic status, could put a relevant, yet familiar spin on our beloved French girl.