Friday, February 8, 2019

Simple, luxurious gestures from Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren at New York Fashion Week

“I’ve never really been a designer who’s talked about a moment in time, how that’s influenced what I design, but you can’t escape the news,” said Tom Ford following his fall 2019 joint men’s and women’s show on Wednesday night, according to Vogue Runway’s account. 

Thus, the journalist Nicole Phelps reports, began Ford’s quest for unaggressive, “secure” fashion. This comes from the man who unashamedly sent neon leopard yoga pants down the runway in the name of Beverly Hills chic. The same man who sent a (faux) crocodile twinset with a lace camisole down the runway in the name of Seventh Avenue sensuality. Now, Tom Ford, the American designer, and filmmaker has diverted his interests… towards simplicity.

Simplicity isn’t a foreign concept to Ford, a man who could cut a suit like butter, with such deft precision that he makes it look easy. He struck gold with it again on Wednesday night. The menswear was slick, polished as ever, and the womenswear luxuriated in a newfound sophistication and modesty.

There was a scarlet tuxedo worn by Gigi Hadid, an updated version of something he designed for Gucci in 1996. (Gwyneth Paltrow wore an iteration of the look in 1996.) The Mario Testino ad campaign that accompanied the 1996 collection featured a female model wearing the blazer without a blouse. And the 2019 remake? It comes with a turtleneck. Ford acknowledges that sex is no longer currency in fashion.

For a designer whose aesthetic—particularly during his time at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent in the 1990s and early 2000s—is synonymous with sex, he exercised a powerful restraint. The evening gowns, Grecian-Inspired as always, decorated with chain dealing this time, in the show’s denouement, were the only evidence of flesh-bearing fashion. He’s redefined himself with this luxuriously tame statement of intent. 

There were plenty of streetwise options, from olive satin trousers to sharp tuxedo jackets and faux fur coats you wanted to bundle up in. Along with the insouciant look of pocketed hands, Ford invoked the emotion of luxury with this show. In 2019, luxury is about simplicity. Simplicity, in turn, is defined by the concepts of ease, comfort, and durability. 

The furthest things strayed from simplicity were with those brilliant faux fur hats — fun for the super-rich.  

Ralph Lauren had a similar idea. He was also eyeing up the leisure class with an homage to their proclivities. His models swanned about Ralph’s—a purpose-built café set constructed on the ground floor of the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship boutique—as guests sipped coffees and frothed at the sugary pastries on offer. He spared no expense on the glamour with a lineup that included a shimmering gold gown, a naval-inspired jacket styled with a flowing white skirt, and prim floral printed dresses accessorised with matching jackets. 

Simplicity works in Mr. Lauren’s favour. For his 50th anniversary show in Central Park last September, his runway was overwrought—too much texture, too many layers, not enough consideration for clarity. Here, for his spring 2019 see-now-buy-now show, his vision was clear and precise and that’ll satisfy the woman who comes looking for effortless elegance. 

Both images from the Tom Ford show. Photo Credit: Vogue Runway

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