Ralph Lauren has big plans for his Polo women’s range. A new flagship store is opening on Fifth Avenue, and last night, to help spread the word, the company produced a first-of-its-kind spectacle for fashion insiders and a few celebrity guests, Kendall Jenner, Nacho Figueras, Ben Stiller, and Karolina Kurkova, among them. Golf carts transported attendees to Cherry Hill, a string quartet played next to a fountain, and uniformed waiters dispensed caramel corn and drinks, but the big event was a water-screen projection smack dab in the middle of Central Park.
Under the light of the supermoon, a fountain began shooting out of the lake, a hidden projector set up behind it began beaming, and giant holographic images of models clad in the brand’s Spring ’15 collection began appearing against backdrops as varied as a busy shopping thoroughfare, the Brooklyn Bridge, and a lighthouse with waves splashing around it. And all the while, the real-life brick-and-mortar buildings of Central Park West stood watch in the distance. The company has experimented with 4-D technology before. When the Ralph Lauren women’s flagship opened on Madison Avenue a few years ago, movies were projected onto its facade. But last night qualified as something new. For one thing, Instagram barely existed back then. When the water began jetting and the hologram materialized, there wasn’t a camera phone in the crowd that wasn’t flashing, ready to beam the pics around cyberspace.
The clothes themselves took cues from Lauren’s vast oeuvre. There was a nautical moment; some crisp boy-for-girl tailoring; bright, sporty puffer jackets and vests layered over matching bikinis; and a large section devoted to the designer’s long-standing affection for the American Southwest. Think fringe, serape textiles, and tooled leather. The show finished with a series of models in iconic Polo shirts, logo ponies blazing above the right chest, that were paired with drawstring-waist ball skirts as comfy-looking as your favorite pair of sweats. These were relatable pieces with the imprimatur of American fashion’s most famous name. But on this night at least, it wasn’t really about the clothes—projected onto the water screen, they looked slightly blurred. This was a display of the power of the Polo brand. Spelled out in those familiar capital letters against the Manhattan skyline, Lauren’s message came through loud and clear. No wonder the designer’s 4-D avatar did a little shimmy when he came out to take his bow above the lake.