Ralph Lauren presents ‘California Dreaming’ a Spring/Summer 2023 in Los Angeles.
The #RLSP23 collections draw inspiration from the World of Ralph Lauren and the dream of California—one of joy, optimism, and endless pursuit of a life well lived. Each collection is imbued with Ralph Lauren’s spirit of personal style and individuality, uniting it with the spirit of California living and dreaming.
Over the last few years, Ralph Lauren has shown us his New York—the stupendous 50th anniversary show in Central Park, the café society show presented at his uptown store, the swanky supper club he erected near Wall Street and, after a break in live shows due to the pandemic, last season’s soignee affair at MoMA. While there’s no denying he’s a New Yorker through and through, nothing gets the creative juices flowing quite like a case of wanderlust.
And so the designer looked farther afield for spring. Specifically to Southern California—shockingly, the first time he’s shown here. He could have gone anywhere he pleased, but Lauren landed on an unexpected choice—the Huntington Library, a museum and botanical garden just northeast of Los Angeles proper, founded in 1919 by an industrialist family that made their fortunes in railroads and real estate.
It was against the museum’s Mediterranean Revival style facade that Lauren presented his vision to his pals from the upper echelons of Hollywood’s elite—Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Diane Keaton (whom he dressed in her breakthrough role in Annie Hall), Laura Dern, John Legend, Chris Pine, Lily Collins, and Robin Wright, to name but a few. He savvily had a strong contingent of content creators present too, like TikTok stars Noah Beck and Wisdom Kaye. The cushioned loungers and twilight cocktail hour set the tone—this was California casual, done the Ralph way.
Setting the stage for a golden evening celebrating #RalphLauren’s Spring 2023 collections, the air is fragrant with roses and camellias in the scenic landscape of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.
“California has always been a land of dreams and contradictions—rugged coasts and red carpets,” he said in his show notes. You could sense that those contrasts fascinate him. “For the first time ever,” he continued, “I bring my dream of living here, sharing my worlds in an experience that celebrates a way of life I have always believed in—a mix of grit and glamour, energy and inspiration.”
In his six-decades-long career, there’s nothing in the American psyche that Lauren hasn’t addressed in some way. And yet, the West and its mythos, has been particularly transfixing (it’s not for nothing he has a 16,000-acre ranch in Colorado). So it’s not surprising that he found ways to wring out new insights from archetypes and codes that he’s explored before.
The show opened with a trim, wheat-colored suit worn with an oversized cowboy hat, a Western belt, and antique-style jewelry. The effect was confident and assured—a mix of the urbane and rugged, of masculine and feminine. Floral-pattern bias-cut prairie dresses fluttering atop cowboy boots followed, adding a demure touch, while fringed knits became oversized cardigans or wrap skirts, imparting gravitas. Men, meanwhile, wore dusky denim suits, evoking the hardscrabble dignity of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, or, alternately, looked like suave frontiersmen of classic Hollywood westerns, the models tipping their hats and winking at audience members as they strutted by.
The show shifted through different modes, first came looks in an easy key: breezy pleated pants worn with louche white button-ups, preppy sweaters tied around the neck, tennis shorts paired with a creamy brown turtleneck, a shimmering gold safari suit, all imbued with a sense of offhanded elegance. Next, it moved into a more eclectic, youthful beat, with devil-may-care styling typical of Gen Z: madras patchwork mixed with tailoring, athletic gear mixed with prep, polo shirts atop ball gowns or maillots worn with billowing nylon floor length skirts.
Lauren seemed to be shaking off the formality of the East Coast, embracing the outdoorsy lifestyle of Los Angeles. It was a looser, freer collection, one that was a snapshot of the breadth and variety of the American style idiom (the wonderful casting of various ages and ethnicities helped tell that story beautifully). Instead of the normal final walk, the enormous cast came out and lined the stairs as Lauren, smiling, took his bow. The next day he would turn 83 and the creative spark is still firmly in place. As he took his turn before the cameras the Neil Diamond song “I Am … I Said” was playing:
“Well I’m New York City born and raised, But nowadays I’m lost between two shores L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home New York’s home, but it ain’t mine no more …”Ralph Lauren