Were you looking into a crystal ball and trying to divine a sense of what you—and everyone else, for that matter—will be wearing for evening come next spring, the vision would, I assure you, be a little murky at best. This past week in New York, just about every permutation has popped up (or more accurately, walked down) just about every runway: It’s athletic and graphic. It’s Japanese-inspired and conceptual. It’s supershort. It’s superlong. It’s super-somewhere-between-the-two, and often asymmetric to boot. So kudos Ralph Lauren for nailing another very clear option from the get-go of his show: A deep purple one-shouldered silk top, a little draped scarf action fluttering at the back, worn with narrow khaki cotton drill cargo pants festooned with pockets. Only the other day, sitting in a cab with a colleague, she mentioned she was feeling the return of what she called the “cocktail jean.” Ralph went one better. Get ready for the cocktail cargo.
Utility, and how it can touch every aspect of a woman’s wardrobe, was the message here, which is pure Ralph: Let the fantasy fly, for sure, but also keep it grounded in reality. So utilitarian detailing—fatigue pockets, jaunty epaulets, sturdy belts (albeit in black croc or gorgeously weathered chocolate leather) touched just about every look. The safari jacket reinterpreted with a sharply defined waist (in case you didn’t get this coming season’s memo, your midriff is back!) worn with a lean skirt. Olive suede worked into a new idea of the suit (peplum top plus pencil skirt) and yet more of his cargo trousers. An otherwise austere ivory column dress with two breast pockets and a metal mesh belt. Oh, and welcome back one other idea for night (and day, too, on the evidence of this show): A pair of long crystal earrings in lustrous shades of ruby and amethyst.