Ralph Lauren 50th Anniversary Show explodes on Central Park

The venue: The Minton Tile Ceiling leading to Bethesda Terrace, Central Park’s heart (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren)

It has to be said. Sometimes it is an insane privilege to be part of the international gang of press and buyers who get invited to the best shows. Let’s face it, the luxury and fashion industry has been on fire for more than two decades and has made many people very, very rich and turned them into billionaires like Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors, Bernard Arnault and many more. All these houses and designers and companies have anniversaries and yes, fashion loves to celebrate them. 20th anniversary, 25th, or 40 years in fashion and so on. We think of the 45 years in fashion extravaganza by Valentino in Rome in 2007 where the show was held in the Vatican and Valentino wanted the dinner to feel as if it were in one of his homes and the renowned Italian movie designer Dante Ferretti created the setting and 3,400 glasses were ordered in Valentino’s favorite yellow crystal.

But enough of that. Yesterday we were among the lucky editors to be invited to celebrate Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary as a designer. Yes, the big five O. And Ralph Lauren invited us to Central Park, Manhattan’s iconic green lung and Public Park. But for Lauren the authorities made an exception and they blocked the streets and access so Lauren could have his show around Bethesda Place, the iconic staircase, tunnel and fountain on 72nd street that people from all over the world imagine as New York at its best as immortalized by movies like Annie Hall by Woody Allen where Diane Keaton’s character was clad in of course Ralph Lauren. Let’s say it, it was a moment, it was epic, it was beautiful and amazing and seeing Lauren with tears in his eyes descending the stairs in cowboy boots and tuxedo jacket was just heartwarming and made you proud to be in the industry.

Mr. Lauren: Style icon

What is Ralph Lauren style?

All the facettes of what America is about: on the East Coast it’s about WASPs and on the West Coast about denim, while in the middle it’s about the military and army surplus and the obsession with sports all mixed up over and over. By adhering to these codes, Lauren has created his own style, which unabashedly embraces Americana at its best.

America’s dress code (from left to right): (1) Black light luxury wool crepe jacket, black wool cashmere turtleneck with silhouette, grey melange multi stripe pants and crimson velvet platform sandals; (2) brown wool herringbone jacket, vintage cotton denim overall, blue/white dress shirt and calf leather Oxford shoes; (3) dark olive lightweight melton coat, black heavy floral lace evening dress, leopard haircalf platform sandals and multi patchwork large cross body; (4) red/black/white puffer jacket, black wool cashmere turtleneck with logo, fringe boot cut pants and leather combat boots. (Photo Credit: Milk Digital)

His speech?

“This evening is beyond my wildest dreams. When I look around I see so much sophistication and production and I have to say, it’s not really me but I feel blessed”

At the dinner: Oprah giving a toast to Ralph Lauren joined by the rest of the A-list guests (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren)

What does this mean for the future of the company?

One thing is for sure, the generation of millennials responds to images and roots. The company recently decided to pour an additional 10 million dollars into marketing to make Ralph’s story and this show come alive globally. So even while the company has slowed down, this maneuver to underscore the iconic value of the brand will reap its benefits.

Young models caught on camera post show (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren)

The rumors?

This was maybe Mr. Lauren’s last show. He seems fragile and his design teams and possible successor in son David are well in place so what better way to get off the stage.

American aristocracy (from left to right): Lauren, David, Rick Anne, Dylan, Paul and Andrew (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren)

The overall impression?

This evening felt honest, Mr. Lauren’s is a real gentleman who cannot hide his feelings which makes him stand out in a country that is all about showtime.

The finale of Ralph Lauren’s 50th Anniversary show (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren)

Escada Women’s S/S 2019

The venue: The historical Park Avenue Armory renovated by Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron after 9/11

In our March 2018 print issue we talked about Hamburg as secret German fashion capital. Why? Karl Lagerfeld was born there and Jil Sander created her global fashion empire from there. But if we’re really honest, we must admit that Munich is Germany‘s traditional fashion center. Condé Nast sits there, Burda Media and many fashion labels with international recognition: Rena Lange, Strenesse, Laurèl, Aigner, MCM and of course Escada. Sadly, most of these companies are no longer in business or simply irrelevant or successful but operated from elsewhere like MCM. Well, Escada is still around and the company made a big bold step into the future today with a full blown, no bars held runway spectacle at the Park Avenue Armory where the likes of Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford normally show.

Bringing in an all star fashion support cast led by set designer Stefan Beckman of Marc Jacobs fame, sound designer Frédéric Sanchez and stylist Jacob K who also works with blonde Donatella Versace, the Munich based brand led by designer Niall Sloan and CEO Iris Epple-Righi showed there were serious about finally bringing back life to this classy German house. Working an equestrian theme with fun color schemes and 80’s power silhouettes, Sloan scored. We tell you what worked and what could be improved.

Backstage: Global Design Director Niall Sloan and CEO Iris Epple-Righi (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for ESCADA)

Best looks?

Escada is named after a race horse and to show off the company’s equestrian pedigree Sloan showed several clever silk jockey outfits which made the clothes look fresh and unexpected.

Pajama-like looks with equestrian motifs

80’s vibes?

The movie Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts was when Escada was a fashion power. The company had an enormous boutique at the Beverly Wilshire hotel where most of the scenes took place. So yes, power shoulders on the suiting was everywhere.

Flashback to Vivian’s (Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman) looks at the polo match (left picture) and at Rodeo Drive (right picture).

The new team?

Iris Epple-Righi is an ambitious German female CEO who wants to get Escada back on track and it looks like she was given time to achieve her goal. Indian billionaire owner Megha Mittal and Epple-Righi seem aligned on getting it right and this assured Manhattan runway debut featured not only good clothes but also strong accessories as good bags; a whole new category for the house.

Multicolored leather bags from the S/S 2019 collection (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for ESCADA)

What could be better?

Hiring Amber Valletta as new campaign face, letting Lara Stone close the show, there seems to be a too heavy focus on working with established names instead of thinking about who really fits the brand. Stone closing the show in an oversized blazer simply looked wrong.

Amber Valletta (left) and Lara Stone (right) at the show