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Bespoke - - PALAZZO RALPH LAUREN -

Ralph Lau­ren is a brand that’s al­ready well-di­ver­si­fied in men’s, women’s and chil­dren’s cloth­ing, along with fra­grances and home fur­nish­ings and, af­ter hav­ing al­ready added three restau­rants to its grow­ing life­style port­fo­lio, the com­pany re­cently opened its first mem­bers-only club.

Ralph Lau­ren’s finest global cus­tomers now have a per­fect rea­son to dig deeper into their pock­ets with a highly exclusive re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence at the novel Palazzo Ralph Lau­ren in Mi­lan. As the name sug­gests, this is not your av­er­age high-end bou­tique, rather it’s an ul­tra­ex­clu­sive lux­ury club that al­lows its mem­bers to en­joy a full brand ex­pe­ri­ence in a pri­vate res­i­den­tial en­vi­ron­ment. Cu­ri­ous? We were too so paid them a visit and this meant head­ing to Casa Cam­panini, a Lib­erty-style Art Nou­veau man­sion dat­ing back to 1941 on Via San Barn­aba, a quiet street just off the city’s main fash­ion district. Un­like Ralph Lau­ren’s reg­u­lar bou­tiques, which pur­pose­fully feel like country clubs, the new 1,100-square-me­tre con­cept store ups the ante by tak­ing the form of a richly ap­pointed royal fam­ily home. The cool, soft tones of the mar­ble, the elab­o­rate, an­cient fres­cos and the som­bre, clas­si­cal aes­thet­ics flirt with fur­nish­ings from the com­pany’s home col­lec­tion (all of which are avail­able for pur­chase) in a con­stant har­mo­nious bal­ance be­tween his­tori­cism and con­tem­po­rane­ity. “Mi­lan is a unique city where peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate re­fine­ment, qual­ity and style,” said Ralph Lau­ren at the Palazzo’s open­ing cer­e­mony last Septem­ber. “I wanted to cre­ate an el­e­gant ex­pe­ri­ence that cap­tures the glam­our of the city. The palace, with its rich his­tory, pro­vides a ro­man­tic set­ting to show­case the very best of my men’s and women’s col­lec­tions.” Ob­vi­ously not just any­one can walk through its wrought iron gates (that were de­signed over a cen­tury ago by Al­fredo Cam­panini him­self), as pri­vacy is fun­da­men­tally im­por­tant here. Of­fi­cially, the club is for mem­bers only and mem­ber­ship can only be ac­quired by in­vi­ta­tion. But as­sum­ing you have the means to cross this first hur­dle, what you’ll need to do next is ar­range a one-on-one pri­vate ap­point­ment. When that day comes, you’ll be picked up by one of Ralph Lau­ren’s chauf­feurs and brought to the palazzo, where you’ll be in­tro­duced to the in-house chef, who will of­fer the breakfast, lunch, snack or din­ner your heart de­sires on a pri­vate ter­race with views of Mi­lan. Once wined and dined, they’re hop­ing you’ll be ready to browse the spe­cially cu­rated suites, which are de­signed in the man­ner of pri­vate rooms, with fully stocked wardrobes. We were for­tu­nate enough to get in­vited to one of their pri­vate cocktail events, which gave us a taste of how it all works. Armed with our bot­tom­less glasses of cham­pagne and sa­ti­ated on the bite-size del­i­ca­cies, we were of­fered a spe­cial court­yard pre­view of Ralph Lau­ren’s lat­est run­way col­lec­tion, which had only just been shown at New York Fash­ion Week. In a won­der­fully dis­crete man­ner, we were in­formed that we could place a pri­or­ity or­der on any of the items and they’d be de­liv­ered to us well be­fore they hit the shelves. Af­ter this, the RL in-house team took us one by one to two sep­a­rate re­cep­tion ar­eas: one for men, the other for women. From there, we were guided to our re­spec­tive shop­ping suites, shown the made-to-or­der ser­vices as well as a num­ber of one-off and limited-edi­tion pieces not avail­able else­where, from tri-colour croc­o­dile Ricky bags to unique RL watches (pro­duced by JaegerLecoul­tre. Pi­aget and IWC). The suite we spent the most time in was the one ded­i­cated to Ralph Lau­ren’s Pur­ple La­bel for men. It had the look and feel of a be­spoke ate­lier, with a cu­rated se­lec­tion of 25 or so fine fab­rics for made-to-mea­sure suits, blaz­ers, smok­ing jack­ets, as well as some ul­tra-cool cus­tom-made jack­ets in veg­etable-dyed Louisiana al­li­ga­tor. For Ralph Lau­ren’s loy­al­ists, this place will no doubt rep­re­sent a boon, or so they’re hop­ing, for they ac­tu­ally dis­con­tin­ued the lease on their multi-brand for­mat store on Via Mon­te­napoleone to make way for this new con­cept. We would imag­ine that if things go well, then there’ll be more of th­ese Palaz­zos sprout­ing up across the world. Per­haps we can even wish for one closer to home.

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