Ralph Lauren often draws inspiration from the American west (see, for example, last season), but for fall 2011 the master of Americana is headed to China. Which makes sense given that China seems to be the most important place in fashion right now--both as a growing luxury market, and as the site of production for many labels.
Lauren's theme was anything but subtle: the first model out was Sui He (from Wenzhou, China), the music had a distinctly Chinese twang, models wore dangly jade earrings, and there were pops of bright red--on lips and on lacquered heels--throughout a collection of mostly black and white looks. Sleek white blouses were paired with simple black pants and knee-length skirts, and black suiting was glossier than the black lacquered runway. As if that weren't enough to drive home the China thing, a remake of David Bowie's "China Girl" played, and Chinoiserie, in the way of embroidered dragons covered a shearling vest and a red blazer and long dress coats over evening wear. The show reminded me a bit of the opening scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Kate Capshaw performs at that club in 1930's Shanghai.
The stand out looks from the show were the impeccable black evening wear--sleek sexy dresses in fluid silk, panne velvet, sable, beaded, and some with mandarin collars.
Next time Michelle Obama meets with China, she could make the powers that be in fashion happy and wear Ralph Lauren.
**All photos: IMAXTREE