NEW YORK — All parties were winners in Ralph Lauren's revisionist interpretation of the Russian Revolution.
Cossacks, grand duchesses, tweedy intellectuals, peasants anGypsies did a grand march in his fall collection.
Most of the recurring trends of the season were evident in his presentation, but the master American designer had shaped them into beautiful clothes, instead of costumes. He cut the military look into a Cossack general's greatcoat. He dressed his dandies as sensitive intellectuals in pure white shirts and small velvet vests. The princesses wore all black, all jet. Gypsies and peasants were Ralph Lauren's nod to the bohemian look.
The man is grand in his restraint; he ignored Rasputin, the mad monk of the czarist court.
Monastic and priestly trappings swept through many fall collections this week, and some were not to be believed.
Naughty Betsey Johnson draped her male acolytes in crushed robes and adorned them with nose rings, gold-leafed tribal makeup and crooked crosses. The effect was Druids on drugs; enough to scare Merlin himself.
At Joan Vass, a handsome black cashmere coat with stand-up collar, which had the look of a priest's soutane, was modeled by Eve, the hit of the Paris avant-garde.
Eve's tattooed, stubbly bald skull had the business suits in the front rows praying for an exorcist.
But be not dismayed. American designers showed many tempting and very wearable clothes for fall.
* Jackets require a whole new vocabulary, and shoppers will have to get past the b-is-for-blazer school. Try spencer, frock, cutaway, and chesterfield in the dictionary.
* Day or evening knits are dominant in the dress circle, but in a very soft way.
* Anything velvet works morning till midnight, and it can be crushed, cut, knit or quilted.