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PARIS Spring 2004

Ralph Lauren claims he was inspired for spring by the "sophisticated gamine" (hmmmmm- could it be Audrey Hepburn, whom he had once dressed?) Every several years, Ralph goes back to his 'Great Gatsby' spectator sportswear roots- very preppy and collegiate- which is something he does so well (and apparently sells so well), and this is one of those season. But while much of the first group out (which was mainly black and white) was chic, wearable, and lovely, the all too bright middle and ending, which was drenched in head to toe color, seemed forced and contrived. In general, I was disappointed with this show, because I really loved his personal, eclectic, and vintage inspired Fall/Winter collection, which was far less clichéd, more individual, hence- much more special.

The playful and sporty opening featured lots of chic and sexy takes on cabled varsity sweaters, tennis dresses, and kilted skirts. And if you're like me, and always looking for that perfect spectator (I never met a spectator pump I didn't like), Ralph showed one of the best takes on a high- heeled lace up spectator pump that I've seen in awhile- outside of Chanel. Then there were his preppy and collegiate contrast trim jackets, shrunken blazers with crests on the pockets, and natty black and white pinstripes. He also sent out some of the most lovely takes on the pleated skirts that are all around: Ralph's were executed in white and showed up in the form of criss cross back and slip top dresses. And of course, if it's Audrey he's thinking of, his little black dress with flirty skirt was a perfect homage.

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