Cowboys, metallic suits, ’90s sportswear, faux backpackers, and bashful kids: Ralph Lauren’s spring 2023 show featured this mixed bag, plus a whole lot more. Lauren has a rich history of hosting memorable shows in unconventional locations, and this time, he headed West to showcase his massive collection at The Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California—off the official fashion month calendar. A slew of A-listers from Jennifer Lopez (who made her first appearance with new husband Ben Affleck since their nuptials) to Diane Keaton and Jessica Chastain sat front row.
The spring 2023 collection read like a celebration of Ralph-isms through and through. Presented in what felt like thematic order, various extremes of the brand were laid bare. The opening looks focused on Americana tropes that verged on Clint Eastwood’s costumes in the Good Bad and Ugly (Keaton in Annie Hall, interestingly enough, also comes to mind). Next were more wearable, classic iterations of the Ralph Lauren house codes—all prep and some parts undeniably coastal grandma. There were long belted dresses, ’70s sailor looks, glittering floor-length red gowns, and billowing printed dresses.
What came next were processions of families: kids in suits and twinsets, mini-me’s in arty beanies, matching skater couples, conservative duos with vests layered over button-downs, hikers in boiler suits, entire clans that looked like they were ready to step right off the runway and into Joshua Tree to go glamping. It was a Susan Sontag-ified camp moment, but with a WASP-y twist, devoid of humor. Sure, some of the looks that came down the runway—especially the kids’s outfits—felt slightly dated, but all said, the craftsmanship was unquestionable. In full, the collection read like a timeline and résumé of Lauren’s undeniable genius and overwhelming contributions to fashion.
Lauren’s collections often feel celebratory, and this one certainly did—not just because of the location and star-studded audience, but also due to the sheer number of looks and variety in aesthetics. In many ways, it felt like a tribute show of the brand’s heritage, and perhaps, even a swan song of sorts. After all, Lauren is 83 years old, and this was by far his biggest collection and show in years. The casting—a mix of familiar faces who have been with the brand on and off for years—was firmly multigenerational, and that was nice to see. Despite all that, there was still a clear lack of body diversity for such an expansive show.
“For the first time, I bring my dream of living to California, celebrating a way of life that I have always believed in—a mix of grit and glamor, energy and inspiration,” Lauren said in a statement about the show. Lauren certainly managed to embody the allure of glamor in many of the pieces in the collection, and that’s what makes the brand so iconic—and one of the few remaining major American fashion houses (founded in 1967) of its era with its original founder still at the helm. The ’90s-inspired polos and slick suits showcased here will always have their devoted fans. Even with all the pomp and circumstance, one could find a hidden gem that felt new and true to the Lauren aesthetic. Case in point? The taffeta skirts layered with jewels and paired with swimsuit-style bodysuits.