The Models Were a Mirage

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — Sometimes fashion is all about timing. When the schedule for New York Fashion Week was completed a few weeks ago, one show that had been added to the roster — Polo for Women, to be held in Central Park — looked as if it might be problematic for some attendees.

It was scheduled for Monday night.

For tennis fans, that meant only one thing: a possible conflict with the U.S. Open men’s final, then a much-anticipated possibility between the No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic and perhaps Andy Murray or a resurgent Roger Federer.

No problem, David Lauren said, when asked about the conflict at a cocktail party last week. “We thought about this,” he said. “The show won’t start until after 9:30, and the match should be over by then. I guarantee it.”

He was right. The match (between the unlikely finalists Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic) ended precisely at 7:03, with an efficient three-set win by Cilic, leaving tennis fans plenty of time not only to make Polo but also to catch the 8 p.m. Rag & Bone show in Midtown.

The trip up to Central Park was a long subway ride and a world away from the Williamsburg-by-way-of-Hackney mood of Rag & Bone. Golf carts were used to ferry guests from the entrance on West 72nd Street, and elegantly preppy waiters served Champagne and lobster rolls as Ivanka Trump, the singer Ciara, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the suddenly ubiquitous Kendall Jenner and a dozen or so impossibly gorgeous models (each in a customized Polo shirt) milled among the lush, softly lit greenery.

Then it was time for the fashion show, which is where it all became a little trippy. As music began to play, a 60-foot-tall wall of water rose from the lake, on which holographic images of models wearing pieces from the Polo collection were displayed, each of them walking through an ever-changing set. The show closed with a surreal image of a dancing (yes, dancing) Ralph Lauren waving to the unseen audience.

The technology, which the younger Lauren has labeled “4-D,” was pretty impressive — though perhaps not to everyone. As the seemingly rapt crowd gathered by the lake, almost everyone chronicling the moment on a smartphone, one attendee turned to a fellow guest and said, “Haven’t any of these people ever been to Las Vegas?”