Last updated: October 2, 2012 11:10 am

Fashion week: the SS/13 collections

Ralph Lauren applies his Midas touch to feminine designs while Calvin Klein brings streamlined stricture

The final day of fashion week in New York always holds a sense of closure, comfort and routine before the circus packs up for London.

Partly, this stems from the fact that the same two titan US brands close each season in the same ritualised way. Ralph Lauren does two back-to-back shows in the morning; Calvin Klein follows suit with two in the afternoon. People applaud in raptures, compare outbound tickets from JFK for that evening and then melt away into the heaving streets of the Garment District, just as they did only six months previously.

The catwalks themselves tend to hold few surprises either.

As usual, Ralph Lauren selected an exotic foreign clime – in this case Spain with an occasional nod to the colourful exoticism of Mexico – and applied his distinctive Midas touch to a series of feminine, well-executed designs.

A boxy, cropped matador jacket with rich brocade detailing on the cuffs and pockets was teamed with a tipped black hat, slim cigarette pants and a striped, oversized serape-knit poncho in a kaleidoscope of colours. A series of 1940s-style black dresses and skirted suits with stiffened white collars and starched cotton shirts provided an aura of timeless elegance, while all the fluidity and rigour of flamenco seeped into an exquisite evening collection. Particular highlights included a fiery scarlet strapless number with a cinched bodice waist and anchored tiers in red reams of cascading taffeta waves, plus a crisp oversized shirt with an intricately beaded, fluidly fishtailed, jet black skirt worn by the now ubiquitous Karlie Kloss.

Streamlined stricture remained the order of the day across town at Francisco Costa’s show for Calvin Klein.

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A monochrome palette unveiled cropped pants with visibly exposed seams and matching double-breasted blazers, complete with a stiffened integral peplum finish for a fresh contemporary take on suiting.

Conical bustier baby-doll dresses felt outdated and somewhat contrived; delicate cocktail gowns of full-skirted vanilla-whipped chiffon, overlaid with a layer of black latticed moire on the other hand, were not.

A final duo of shimmering, satin panelled cocktail numbers, built upon a web of fine gold wiring, took the dresses up and away from the body while retaining a streamlined and seductive shape, reiterating that Costa’s understanding of the female form for the 21st century remains one of the best in the business.

These final shows of fashion week are like a polite meeting with old friends; pleasurable yet entirely predictable and with a strong chance of seeing them again. Let’s see what September brings.

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