February 14, 2014 8:40 am

New York Fashion Week: Runway report 11

Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein deliver designs with customers in mind
Models present designs by Ralph Lauren©Getty

The final morning of fashion week was ushered in with a wild snowstorm of apocalyptic proportions.

For a few fleeting hours, the streets of New York City spluttered to a standstill as howling, swirling flakes descended, creating havoc for all in their way. But despite flight cancellations, traffic jams and snow drifts (perilous particularly for those still wearing their six-inch stilettos), the international fashion crowd are a hardy, seasoned bunch. Predictably, the shows must go on.

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In spite of the unexpected chaos outside, a predictability continued on to the catwalk, thanks to the silky, pastel-hued confections that glided down the runways at Ralph Lauren.

After several recent collections inspired by exotic destinations, Mr Lauren paid homage elsewhere this season: to the luxurious Americana aesthetic he has made his own.

There were classic winter whites: creamy cashmere trenches twinned with bouclé turtlenecks and airy jodhpurs, or coats swaddled like capes. Lavish excess came into play with endless blush and lilac furs and marabou feathers sitting atop of dove grey loungewear that, while thoroughly impractical, looked like it had been woven out of liquidised banknotes. A high note was the light jersey evening wear that sat like a second skin – the simplicity a reminder, perhaps, that in spite of a lack of anything new for years, even decades, the man knows how to create a beautifully constructed silhouette.

Mr Lauren should be commended; he keeps his customers happy by knowing what they want. But sometimes a truly skilled designer also knows what they need, and this came into force later at Calvin Klein with a terrific show by Francisco Costa. Overall, it was a collection of inspired, considered and contemporary design.

A minimalist approach to structure and form was richly complimented by an maximalist use of materials and texture: a monochrome mohair and wool blend shift dress finely spun into soft, form fitting layers; a majestic, multi-knitted sleeveless polo-neck shift and tube skirt that was a riot of stitching and colours; and a large, light olive melange double-breasted coat that married inviting cosiness with elegant sophistication. The shoes were super too, particularly a fortifying pair of uber-cool pony-skin utility boots that had the front row chomping at the bit as they contemplated venturing outside into the snowy wastelands – and next bout of shows in London.

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