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"The First Lady is five minutes away,” said an official-looking security guy outside the Ralph Lauren show on Thursday morning, the final day of New York Fashion Week, loud enough for guests to hear. He had a headpiece, too.

That sent a shock of electricity down the runway.

Whisper, whisper, whisper.

Then, exactly five minutes later, Kanye West walked in from the back entrance. Surely, that’s not his Secret Service code name? "First Lady?”

Actually, it was Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City, who was the surprise guest, and she was delightful addition to the front row. So was Ralph Lauren’s collection, which brought together elements from out west, including luxury après ski wear and spotted handbags made of cowhide, with typical Lauren savoir faire.

But it was such a fabulous, perfect end to a week that set a high bar for fall fashion, one that London, Milan, and Paris designers will have to work hard to beat. Jacobs returned for the first time in years to a traditional one-way runway, highlighting the clothes as much as the atmosphere, and his designs were wonderful. Long sweeping skirts dusted the floor. Lavish dresses were layered with insanely gorgeous plaid coats, some with fur sleeves or wide sleeves or no sleeves. And the fabrics – textiles, really – were among the most extravagant examples of today’s fetish for fashion maximalism yet. Glittering brocades with knife pleats and strategically placed holes rendered skirts, like the rest of this collection, into works of art.



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