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Lauren. Ralph Lauren. Designer conjures 007 in opulent show

Posted September 13

— As Fashion Week drew to a close, Ralph Lauren threw a runway show unmatched in its opulence, bringing 300 guests to his private suburban garage, where they sipped champagne and watched models strut amid dozens of gleaming vintage sports cars from his famed — and rarely seen — collection. In other shows, designer Naeem Khan said he'd been inspired by the famous Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, and Badgley Mischka devoted a collection to the island of Capri — or what the designers imagine Capri to be like.

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GLEAMING CARS, GLEAMING CLOTHES AS LAUREN CHANNELS 007

Lauren. Ralph Lauren.

No wonder the American designer emerged for his bows Tuesday night to the strains of Sean Connery's "Thunderball." James Bond may have had a couple Aston Martins, and a Bentley or two. But Lauren? He has dozens upon dozens of vintage cars — hundreds of millions of dollars' worth.

And Lauren used those gleaming specimens of automotive glory — said to be one of the largest collections in the world, and long kept relatively hidden — to display his latest fashion line, taking the concept of site-specific fashion shows to new (and expensive) heights.

In what had to have been one of the most opulent settings ever devised for a fashion show, a fleet of black SUVs, all playing the same jazz music, ferried some 300 guests out to a multilevel garage in suburban Westchester, just off the highway and not far from Lauren's home. Inside, guests sipped champagne and munched on the signature fried olives from Lauren's Polo Bar in midtown Manhattan. Most of all, they gawked at the shiny cars — an eye-popping collection of McLarens, Bugattis, Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys and whatever else you can imagine.

Actresses Katie Holmes and Diane Keaton chatted. Jessica Chastain, in a white pantsuit that matched the immaculate carpeting, posed for photos. Also there: fellow fashion luminaries Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg, along with Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

The soundtrack began with the "vroom, vroom" of engines starting, and the fashions began with dapper suits in checks and houndstooth, for both women and men. There was lots of shiny black leather — jackets, tops, pants. The mood switched from tweedy to slinky, with gowns in shiny fabrics meant to evoke the sleekness of the cars.

The color scheme, too, was in sync with the automobiles: Model Kendall Jenner wore a shiny yellow-and-black gown, and Bella Hadid a gleaming red creation. There were loads of motorcycle jackets, and Lauren seemed to be referring in one outfit to Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons and her ballerina biker look, with a leather bomber and a long skirt in yellow tulle.

Lauren came out in a driver's jumpsuit, stopping to clasp hands with Wintour along his customary lap of the runway. Guests were led to a lower floor, where there were more cars, more champagne and dinner.

Chastain, speaking after the show, said she was a huge fan of the clothes, but wasn't sure whether to describe herself as an automobile fan.

"I'm not really a car girl to be honest," she said. "But my husband is a huge car guy. (And) I did get picked up in a 2006 Bugatti, which was pretty spectacular. So I may be a car girl and not know it."

—Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt

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EVENING DRESSES WITH FLIP-FLOPS

Sara Bareilles offered the live soundtrack, singing Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay," Carole King's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and her own "Love Song" at Michael Kors. She closed out the very safe — but sleek and feminine — show with her hit "Brave."

Inspired by his first trip to the South Pacific, Kors created a bourgeois beach collection for spring, dressing his models in very relaxed, wearable pastel dresses and skirts featuring palm frond patterns and tie-dye. His choice of footwear was downright carefree.

"I thought how can we blend that sort of big city life with this barefoot beach life? So certainly in my career we have never shown evening clothes with flip-flops. We are!" Kors said Wednesday.

The male and female models — including Kate Upton, Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid — strutted along weathered wood planks meant to resemble a boardwalk in front of a downtown audience that included Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Yang Mi.

There were chunky sweaters, classic trench coats and man-cut double-breasted blazers. The dresses and skirts were in linen and crepe, in shades of pale pink, lavender and loads of blue.

Strips of material streamed out of some of the cuffs, and shirt tails spilled free from jackets, giving wearers an ethereal quality. Kors said much of the tailoring was meant to "catch the wind." Sequins sparkled seductively on some of the most interesting layered dresses.

Backstage, Kors said his customers know what works on them and his clothes know no political divide. Michelle Obama wore Kors and Melania Trump wore one of his belted coat dresses on Sept. 11.

"It's so modern and cutting edge," Watts said. "Always strong, standout pieces, but also really wearable." Zeta-Jones came with her daughter, Carys, who complimented her famous mom for her fashion sense. "I should put her in front of the camera more often," joked mom.

—Mark Kennedy

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BALLERINA-INSPIRED FASHION

Naeem Khan looked to iconic Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova for his new spring collection.

"Pavlova was the most amazing ballet dancer," Khan said backstage before Tuesday's show. "She's global, she traveled the world ... taking influences from countries like India, Mexico, France, America. To me, somebody like this, her life, is what makes my collection. So, I have fabrics from different parts of the world."

The Indian-American designer has fashion devotees across the globe. "My women, they live in Dubai, they live in New York, they live in France, all over the world," said Khan. He said he's learned there's a common thread. All women want to look "elegantly sexy."

Khan's collection featured, in his words, "a lot of color, a lot of texture and lots of lightness." His catwalk began with black-and-white looks and moved to a brighter color palette. There were dresses with bold, tribal patterns accented with tiered fringe. Models wore floral crowns in their hair, and accessorized with tribal nose rings.

Celebrities in the front row included model Hannah Davis, TV personality Paula Abdul and actress Shay Mitchell.

—Alicia Rancilio

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DREAMING OF CAPRI

American designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka summed up the inspiration for their spring 2018 collection in one word: Capri. They've never set foot on the island off southern Italy, but their designs were aimed at evoking the sunny, romantic luxury of the seaside resort.

"It's sort of what we imagine Capri to be like," Badgley said before Tuesday's show. "It's an American girl in Capri for the first time. It's a happy collection. It's a celebration of color."

Badgley Mischka is known for dressing celebrities on red carpets all over the world, but this collection had more of a casual flair, including T-shirts, canvas espadrille wedges and strappy flat sandals — everything embellished with jewels and textured flowers. Most models sported beachy, salt-sprayed hair in up-dos and accessorized with long, dangly tasseled earrings in shades of pink and yellow, and loose straw hats.

Some donned sunglasses and sported casual white or khaki dresses and capri pants, while swinging straw baskets that looked like they might have a picnic blanket and wine inside. The vacation vibe extended to sunny yellow skirts and tops ready to billow on a windy day by the sea.

One of the collection's goals: to take a woman through her day and into evening. "It's a lifestyle collection for us," Badgley said. Mischka added: "Breakfast, beach, ball gown — the three B's."

The designers' signature formal gowns closed out the show, but followed a similar palette, with shades of salmon and fuchsia in satin, embellished with oversized bows, ruffles and flowers. Several of the most striking dresses had floral pearl applique cascading down organza, tapestry brocade embellished with ostrich feathers and intricate sparkly iridescent beading.

The front row included actress Alfre Woodard, who said she "loved the color, loved the sparkle. The sparkle was organic and all of those clothes make me happy. And I'll be happy to wear them!"

—Brooke Lefferts

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