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Ralph Lauren's new collection evokes 19th century Russia, France

A model presents a creation from the Ralph Lauren Autumn/Winter 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Luc
A model presents a creation from the Ralph Lauren Autumn/Winter 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Luc

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wool coats and jackets befitting 19th-century Paris and elegant, hourglass-figured silk gowns suiting imperial Russia filled the fall and winter 2013 Ralph Lauren collection unveiled on Thursday at New York Fashion Week.

Evoking "Les Misérables" and "Anna Karenina," the American designer showed white high-collar ruffled blouses with bows at the neck and double-faced wool crepe stovepipe pants.

Coming on the final day of New York Fashion Week, Lauren's collection is one of the most highly anticipated among the hundreds put on display during the semi-annual event.

New York Fashion Week is followed by similar events in London, Paris and Milan.

Lauren's handsome coats, mostly in black, were double-breasted, high-collared and wide-lapelled, with generously loose shoulders and sleeves.

With models sporting raffish berets and peaked caps, some looks had a pronounced military influence. A black wool crepe jacket featured military-style gold stripes at the cuff.

A simple strapless gown in black textured wool, while hardly suitable for combat, was wittily marked with an air-force style insignia over the decolletage.

Rich velvet dresses in Prussian blue and purple swished and flowed with Bohemian looseness, matched with long chains of multicolored jewel-like beads and carpet bags that would have pleased Mary Poppins.

In a more contemporary reference, a purple velvet pantsuit and white blouse with a flouncy ruffled purple bow evoked Prince in his 1980s' "Purple Rain" era.

The evening-wear veered between gypsy-inspired looseness and more buttoned-up elegance but felt Russian either way, telegraphed not the least by large furry hats.

Silk taffeta evening dresses in midnight blue and forest green featured extravagantly layered skirts.

Calvin Klein propelled the line in an assertive, highly engineered direction with minimalism and bold geometrics in a collection also shown on Thursday.

Clean, straight and simple silhouettes and blocks of color were marked by textural details, including small geometric holes notched into skirts and dresses in a grid-like fashion that became a motif of the collection.

The shoulders on many Calvin Klein jackets and dresses were power-suit strong and broad.

The collection, by womens' wear creative director Francisco Costa, made hefty use of vinyl, especially in spaceship-appropriate dresses, all smooth and shiny. Even the woolen dresses included dark broad vinyl bands at the waist or across the skirt.

Only one dress came anywhere near a dainty, softer form of femininity - a black wool mesh dress with bands of delicate chain embroidery that shimmered and glittered.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Andrew Hay)

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