Fashion: Leave it to Ralph Lauren to get it right on both sides of The Pond.
On the same weekend when he wowed New Yorkers with his 40th anniversary collection and post-fete extravaganza, Ralph's latest take on Anglomania - a rugby collection - was selling like, well, World Cup tickets in Paris.
The tournament began sensationally Friday night when Argentina defeated host France before an audience of 80,000 in Paris, one of the great upsets in the history of the oval ball game. The designer had already got in on the action this month at France's greatest style emporium Colette, which is retailing a European exclusive RUGBY Ralph Lauren Collection.
The Rugby collection "is inspired by the preppy style from prestigious American schools and universities; a nostalgic collection with a young, dynamic flair," says Ralph.
The varsity style rugger jerseys are available at Colette for 89 Euros (or $120) and very agreeably pre-aged, granting the rugby parvenu the credibility that comes from wearing - and still fitting into - an Old School top. Sports fans and hipsters snapped up over 100 jerseys on the opening day, and most models are already sold out.
The six-week tournament has attracted huge crowds to Paris and is predicted to add 8 billion Euros to ($10.8 billion) to the French economy.
Ralph might well not know the difference between a prop and an out-half, but the jerseys - in three variations of black and white - cannily echoed the tops worn by The Barbarians, the joint British and Irish team that plays against visiting Southern Hemisphere teams. Customers can also customize the jerseys with faux university and skull and bones patches.
Lauren is also celebrating the sixth rugby World Cup with a limited edition collectible ball. Retailing at 50 Euros ($65), the yellow, white and gray oval features both the designer's and the store's name. Ideal for a seven-a-side game of touch under the Eiffel Tower, which featured a giant rugby ball slowly revolving last week along with a laser-created goalposts and crossbar.
It was not a bad weekend on the field for Americans either. The gentlemen amateurs from the US acquitted themselves valiantly, going down 28-10 on Saturday to the reining champions England. The Yanks played so well, London's Sunday Times in its report was moved to comment: "in front of tens of thousands of England supporters, it was exceedingly difficult to tell which was minnow and which was the (faded) world champions."
The French, on the other hand, were well and truly beaten 17-10 in the opening match. Maybe they were training with the Chanel rugby balls in signature quilted leather that retailed at close to $3,000?
By Godfrey Deeny
Courtesy Fashion Wire Daily