On the List
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.