(Updates with Calvin Klein show)
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK Feb 14 Wool coats and jackets
befitting 19th-century Paris and elegant, hourglass-figured silk
gowns suiting imperial Russia filled the fall and winter 2013
Ralph Lauren collection unveiled on Thursday at New York Fashion
Evoking "Les Misérables" and "Anna Karenina," the American
designer showed white high-collar ruffled blouses with bows at
the neck and double-faced wool crepe stovepipe pants.
Coming on the final day of New York Fashion Week, Lauren's
collection is one of the most highly anticipated among the
hundreds put on display during the semi-annual event.
New York Fashion Week is followed by similar events in
London, Paris and Milan.
Lauren's handsome coats, mostly in black, were
double-breasted, high-collared and wide-lapelled, with
generously loose shoulders and sleeves.
With models sporting raffish berets and peaked caps, some
looks had a pronounced military influence. A black wool crepe
jacket featured military-style gold stripes at the cuff.
A simple strapless gown in black textured wool, while hardly
suitable for combat, was wittily marked with an air-force style
insignia over the decolletage.
Rich velvet dresses in Prussian blue and purple swished and
flowed with Bohemian looseness, matched with long chains of
multicolored jewel-like beads and carpet bags that would have
pleased Mary Poppins.
In a more contemporary reference, a purple velvet pantsuit
and white blouse with a flouncy ruffled purple bow evoked Prince
in his 1980s' "Purple Rain" era.
The evening-wear veered between gypsy-inspired looseness and
more buttoned-up elegance but felt Russian either way,
telegraphed not the least by large furry hats.
Silk taffeta evening dresses in midnight blue and forest
green featured extravagantly layered skirts.
Calvin Klein propelled the line in an assertive, highly
engineered direction with minimalism and bold geometrics in a
collection also shown on Thursday.
Clean, straight and simple silhouettes and blocks of color
were marked by textural details, including small geometric holes
notched into skirts and dresses in a grid-like fashion that
became a motif of the collection.
The shoulders on many Calvin Klein jackets and dresses were
power-suit strong and broad.
The collection, by womens' wear creative director Francisco
Costa, made hefty use of vinyl, especially in
spaceship-appropriate dresses, all smooth and shiny. Even the
woolen dresses included dark broad vinyl bands at the waist or
across the skirt.
Only one dress came anywhere near a dainty, softer form of
femininity - a black wool mesh dress with bands of delicate
chain embroidery that shimmered and glittered.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Andrew Hay)