NEW YORK — In recent seasons, Ralph Lauren has visited Downton Abbey and exotic 1930s China as inspiration for his luxe runway line-up. For spring 2014, he travels to London, circa the swingin' '60s, for a collection that has a definite Carnaby Street vibe.
But Austin Powers, it's not.
While the iconic 73-year-old designer references some of the most obvious themes of the era — bold colors, geometric prints, short dresses, chunky heels, striped or checked suits, jaunty newsboy caps — he does in it in his own tasteful way.
For spring 2014, Lauren travels to London, circa the swingin' '60s. But Austin Powers, it's not.
The first third of the collection is all black and white as models walk to the John Lennon song, "Nobody Told Me," with the refrain, "Strange days, indeed." Lauren leads off with a model in a black long-sleeved mini with a white collar worn with black knee socks and black patent Mary Janes, and follows with more mini dresses, trenchcoats and jackets in stripes, florals and a Greek key pattern.
Lauren always does a bit of gender-bending with menswear looks; this time a three-piece black-and-white tattersall jacket, vest and slacks, with white shirt and floral tie, looks particularly snappy.
Then the collection dramatically switches gears with a series of bold, short, neon mini-dresses in yellow, green, blue, orange and red, often with matching purse and shoes. The wild colors are so bright that the models have to wear shades.
Lauren traditionally closes his collection with a series of smashing evening gowns — this time in bold, unadorned colors (the closer, a strapless red gown with a floor-length cape, is a real entrance-maker) and off-white shades. For the woman who is not into a gown, he offers an off-white jumpsuit with a plunging neckline, several elegant evening tuxedos and a Nehru jacket that manages to look surprisingly stylish.