Ralph Lauren Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection
There was a moment early in the pandemic when a blazer and sweatpants seemed to sum up everything: It was business on top, cozy on the bottom, and the punchline of many a “Zoom style” joke. Eighteen months and thousands of video meetings later, it’s become a fact of how we dress, a look that meets our conflicting desires for comfort and class and reflects the spontaneous, haphazard attitude of the younger generations. It also isn’t a huge leap from Ralph Lauren’s own style and iconic signatures, mixing the elegant and rugged, city and country, high and low. His fall 2021 collection offers his take on the blazer-and-sweats combo, comprised of plush cashmere joggers, a Fair Isle hoodie, and a Glen plaid topcoat.
Upgrading the casual and easing up the formal was Lauren’s general missive for fall (see: the ivory gown knitted entirely from cashmere) with a touch of Milanese sartorialism inspired by his fondness for the city. Every coat, balmacaan, and sharp-shouldered blazer was unlined, delivering all the swagger and none of the rigidity. Perceptive readers might notice the subtlest sparkle on an oversized, drop-shouldered mushroom plaid coat: The wool was embedded with tiny Swarovski crystals, a tactile, better-appreciated-IRL detail. The suit underneath had the same hint of shine, elevating the look as an unexpected evening wear option.
A plush turtleneck was similarly hand-embroidered with crystals and pearls; its debut was actually in Vogue’s September issue, photographed among the Icelandic glaciers in Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and Annie Leibovitz’s shoot. Other pieces veered even closer to couture, like stripe-y coats that mimicked the look of fur, but were actually pieced-together shearlings in various colors, weights, and textures. Innovation chez RL can look as simple as stripping the lining from a jacket or continuing to reimagine what fur-free luxury outerwear can be. He has a leg up on his European competitors in that regard; Lauren went fur-free way back in 2006, long before designers and conglomerates were in the headlines for doing so.
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