5 Things About Ralph Lauren’s New Collection

5 Things To Know About Ralph Lauren’s Old Hollywood SS21 Film, Featuring Janelle Monáe.

For his spring/summer 2021 collection, Ralph Lauren made his digital show debut with a silver screen experience starring Janelle Monáe.

Here, fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen delivers five things to know about the showcase.

The collection film featured a performance by Janelle Monáe

“Once upon a time, we gathered,” Janelle Monáe said as she took to the stage in Ralph Lauren’s collection film for spring/summer 2021. “We danced, we loved, we laughed,” she continued. “And we looked good.” Because the master of American timeless elegance has been absent through the past year of digital shows, Lauren’s return to the show scene felt like being thrown a post-lockdown lifeline. Over 20 minutes of pure Casablanca-style black and white glamour, his short film – featuring a classic performance by Monáe – was a reminder that some things never change. Ralph Lauren is a safe haven – a steadfast source of contentment when you most need it – and an everlasting wardrobe that feels even more desirable in a time of turmoil and resets.

The film evoked Lauren’s last show before the pandemic

In September 2019, Monáe performed in Ralph Lauren’s last live show at New York Fashion Week. Looking back at it over the past year, the evening was one of those experiences that sometimes feel like a dream. Watching Monáe sing Frank Sinatra’s All or Nothing at All in the spring/summer 2021 film was an almost surreal transportation back to that night in Ralph’s Club in New York, white-clad waiters serving martinis, and a few Hollywood megastars at the table next to you. Lauren drew a parallel between our post-pandemic memories and the way we look back on Old Hollywood today. “I’ve always loved the romance of black and white movies, [and this] brings that spirit of timeless glamour to life,” he said.

The collection felt distinctly comforting

Despite the silver screen atmosphere, this wasn’t an escapist collection of ballroom things that feel foreign to our current mindset. On the contrary, Lauren did what he does best: a women’s and men’s wardrobe fitted to our best versions of ourselves. It was the kind of daywear that makes your posture a little bit better, your manners a little nicer, and your mood a lot better. Through his Casablanca lens, Lauren eased his classic sartorial wardrobe in fit and contemporised it in fabrication: a handsomely cut Prince of Wales blazer for women looked positively comfy, while a three-piece suit for men was rendered in soft chambray. Trousers bordered on the slouchy – ever so louche – and shift dresses and jumpsuits felt dressy in an unchallenging way.

Ralph Lauren has been a super purveyor of lockdown dressing

“It is an expression of personal style that is modern, yet enduring,” Lauren said of the collection, with words that could describe his entire legacy. Much has been said about our shopping habits during lockdown. Few designers have ticked as many of the boxes we’ve desired as Lauren has. From the sportswear of his Polo brand to the countrywear of the RRL line and the casual luxury of his main collection, Lauren’s universe so brilliantly encompasses the “essential” and “investment” wardrobe we’ve all been talking about during the confinement period. Coming out of it, you can imagine we’ll turn to him for further guidance, too.

Was the film a nod to a brighter future?

The dichotomy between Lauren and Monáe’s film for spring/summer 2021 and the live performance they staged in New York in 2019 is interesting. Looking ahead to a new and hopefully more physical era of fashion presentations, perhaps there’s a trilogy in the making here.

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