All-American fashion, according to Marie Claire's July issue, apparently runs the gamut from Ralph Lauren, to Ralph Lauren Collection, to Ralph Lauren Black Label. An object lesson in the special ladymag economics of free advertising, after the jump.
This spread, shot on a ranch and featuring models decked in denim and cowboy boots, manages to go a whole ten pages without using so much as a stitch of clothing by a designer not born Ralph Lifschitz. The story is not marked as advertising, advertorial, a "special collaboration," it doesn't exist to celebrate a retrospective Ralph Lauren exhibition or some kind of brand anniversary. It's as if the stylist just forgot any other American fashion designer ever existed! Look at the credits: the shirt, $325, is Ralph Lauren Black Label. The necklace is $750 from Ralph Lauren Vintage, and the scarf and belt are price on application from the Ralph Lauren Archives, which is apparently a different thing.
It is pretty damn exciting to see a black model — Ariel Meredith is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and has modeled for everything from H&M to Vera Wang to D&G to Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition — cast in an "All-American" story, the kind of U.S. seasonal set piece that usually requires A Blonde With Boobs. But, again, it's impossible to ignore the unusual over-representation of Ralph Lauren items: dress, $180, Lauren by Ralph Lauren Dress Collection. Jacket, $795, Polo Ralph Lauren. Shoes, POA, Ralph Lauren Collection, Belt, $2,795, Ralph Lauren Collection. Watch, POA, Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry. Cuff, $900, bracelet, $2,750, Ralph Lauren Vintage. Cameron Diaz is also sporting Ralph Lauren on the front of the magazine, wearing a $198 denim shirt by Ralph Lauren Blue Label.
This cape costs $698 and, like Cammie's shirt, it's by Ralph Lauren Blue Label. The boots are POA from the Ralph Lauren Archives; the ring is also POA, and it's Lauren by Ralph Lauren. The socks ($24) are Ralph Lauren. They even credited the damn socks.
Did Marie Claire think nobody would notice this freelance Ralph Lauren campaign masquerading as a fashion story? The POA dress and $425 belt in this picture are both by Ralph Lauren Collection; the earrings are POA from the Ralph Lauren Archives. The gloves are vintage, but the designer isn't mentioned, perhaps to avoid cluttering up the page with non-Ralph Lauren references.
This $2,998 coat is by Ralph Lauren Black Label. The jeans, from Ralph Lauren Blue Label, are $298, and the hat is vintage. Questions: Just how many lines does Ralph Lauren now have? Does anyone know for certain? Does Ralph Lauren know? Was it Marie Claire's objective to catalog them all? If so, why did they elide all the various Polos? (To be fair, like Marc Jacobs stores in the West Village, there are probably too many of those too count.)
The top and pants from this shot cost $1,298 each. The $395 scarf and the POA belt are by, you guessed it, Ralph Lauren Collection. Ralph Lauren Archives provided the POA boots.
This dress, at $139, ("Lauren Jeans Co. by Ralph Lauren"), is almost affordable when seen in the light of this spread. (It also looks strangely like my favorite dress when I was 12. Made of denim, it also had snaps and a swirly skirt, but I think mine cost $30.) After the wallet's reprieve of the dress, that Ralph Lauren Archives belt is POA, the Ralph Lauren Vintage necklace is $2,650, and the Ralph Lauren Collection purse is $1,495.
Counting this suede top, $498, the $325 shirt, and $298 jeans (all Ralph Lauren Blue Label), the POA boots and gloves from the Ralph Lauren Archives, and the $1,450 Ralph Lauren Vintage bracelet, plus all the other clothing in the spread, and the $5,596 worth of clothing in another shot which didn't make it onto the Marie Claire website but is in the magazine, the total cost for your summer of Laurenian love is a cool $28,230, not counting all items marked POA.
Quite unnecessarily, on the last page of the spread comes the following note:
All men's clothing, Ralph Lauren.
Women's Western Fashion [Marie Claire]