James Bond may have had a couple Aston Martins, and a Bentley or two. But Ralph Lauren? He has dozens upon dozens of vintage cars — hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth. And on Tuesday night, Lauren used those gleaming specimens of automotive glory — said to be one of the largest collections in the world, and long kept relatively hidden — to display his latest fashion line, taking the concept of site-specific fashion shows to new (and expensive) heights.
In what had to have been one of the most opulent settings ever devised for a fashion show, a fleet of black SUVs, all playing the same jazz music, ferried some 300 guests out to a multi-level garage in suburban Westchester County, New York, just off the highway and not far from Lauren’s home. Inside, guests sipped champagne and munched on the signature fried olives from Lauren’s Polo Bar in midtown Manhattan. Most of all, they gawked at the shiny cars — an eye-popping collection of McLarens, Bugattis, Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys and whatever else you can imagine.
Actresses Katie Holmes and Diane Keaton chatted. Jessica Chastain, in a white pantsuit that matched the immaculate carpeting, posed for photos. Also there: fellow fashion luminaries Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg, along with Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
When it was time for the fashion show — yes, there were clothes, too — guests sat on leather banquettes. The soundtrack began with the “vroom, vroom” of engines starting — later morphing into some familiar notes from James Bond movie scores.
The fashions began with dapper suits in houndstooth and checks — in both men’s and sexier women’s designs — including a checked bustier with skinny pants, and a strapless floor-length gown. There was lots of shiny black leather — jackets, tops, pants. The mood switched from tweedy to slinky, with gowns in shiny fabrics meant to evoke the sleekness of the cars. Many had leather bustiers on top, with skirts of filmy tulle.
The color scheme, too, was in sync with the automobiles: Model Kendall Jenner wore a shiny yellow-and-black gown, and Bella Hadid a gleaming red creation. There were loads motorcycle jackets, and Lauren seemed to be referring in one outfit to Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons and her ballerina biker look, with a leather bomber and a long skirt in yellow tulle.
Lauren emerged in a driver’s jumpsuit, stopping to clasp hands with Wintour along his customary lap of the runway. Guests were led to a lower floor, where there were more cars, more champagne, and dinner.
Chastain, speaking after the show, said she was a huge fan of the clothes, but wasn’t sure whether to describe herself as an automobile fan.
“I’m not really a car girl to be honest,” she said. “But my husband is a huge car guy. (And) I did get picked up in a 2006 Bugatti, which was pretty spectacular. So I may be a car girl and not know it.”