Fall Fashion Preview

Ralph Lauren's big surprise: Designer doubles up on lifestyles of rich and aspirational

Ralph Lauren doubles up on lifestyles of rich and aspirational

Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection dove gray silk chiffon beaded dress, gray feather jacket and gray kidsuede over-the-knee boots. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection heather lavender tweed coat with shearling collar, tweed jacket, cashmere turtleneck and flannel pants. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Polo fall fashion February 2014
Polo Ralph Lauren broan shearling aviator jacket, beacon linen dress, leather backpack and calfsuede clog sandal. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection pearl gray flannel gown. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Polo fall fashion February 2014
Ralph Lauren led off the debut of his Polo collection with these three looks.  photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection gray tulle beaded evening gown. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection pale pink lame evening gown. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Polo fall fashion February 2014
Polo Ralph Lauren patchwork wool coat, pinstripe wool jacket, lace camisole, coated denim moto jean and calf duck boot. Photo by shootdigital
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Polo fall fashion February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Polo fall fashion February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Collection fall collection February 2014
Ralph Lauren Polo fall fashion February 2014

As hurricane-caliber winds hurled pellet-sized snowflakes toward my face on one of the worst mornings in the East Coast's longest winter, I thought to myself, "If it were any fashion show except Ralph Lauren, I would have stayed in bed."

But like the U.S. Postal Service, I wasn't going to let miserable weather keep me from my appointed mission.

Lauren always puts the finishing touches on Fashion Week with an elegant collection that sends you out feeling that American fashion is in good hands. His runway show in an intimate, jewel box-sized venue — he does three back-to-back showings to keep the audience manageable — is luxurious, with glittering chandeliers and icy models in impeccably tailored clothing that exemplifies lifestyles of the rich and aspirational.

 The designer is adding a new Polo Ralph Lauren collection for women in the fall, so he gave the fashion press a sneak preview with 25 looks.

So what's a little snow and ice to get in the way?

One inside the cozy confines of Laurenland, all was perfect — especially because the designer had a surprise in store with two runway shows in one. He is adding a new Polo Ralph Lauren collection for women in the fall, so he gave the fashion press a sneak preview with 25 looks.

The collection, which features more moderately priced clothing, runs the gamut of Lauren's greatest hits. It features Western styles (fringe jackets, blanket-pattern dresses, serape cardigans), a salute to grunge (a floral dress paired with brown wool blazer, leggings and clog sandals), sherbet-colored cardigans, patchwork moto jackets and a menswear-inspired pinstripe suit with plaid flannel shirt.

Maybe the customer won't buy this head-to-toe Lauren look, but there are plenty of separates to accent any woman's current wardrobe.

The Ralph Lauren Collection that followed offers more elegant attire for a more affluent woman. Colors are muted — shades of mauve, gray and winter white predominate — and fabrics are luxurious. Even cashmere jogging pants and creme suede high-top sneakers take on a refined tone when paired with a pink tuxedo jacket or cashmere turtleneck.

The collection also includes largely unadorned silk and jersey gowns, which substitute intricate draping, trains and capes for beading and embellishments to create the "wow" factor.

Swathed in cashmere capes and ponchos, with over-the-knee kid suede boots, a woman can brave the elements looking like a fashion plate. I'd just hate to see her in a snowstorm.

But the designer was prepared. He came out for his runway bow in a pair of snow boots from his Winter Olympics collection. Alas, the boots, which retail for $395, are sold out.