Essentials of style
OPRAH WINFREY (MEDIA EXECUTIVE AND ACTRESS):
“When I first moved to Chicago and was making enough money to pay my rent and still had something left over, my idea of celebrating that success wasn’t to get a fancy car or jewellery. My idea of success was to get Ralph Lauren towels.” From her toast at Lauren’s anniversary dinner.
JOHN VARVATOS (DE SIGNER AND FORMER HEAD OF MENSWEAR D E S I GN, R A L P H L AUREN): “In the mid-tolate ’80s, people basically wanted to sleep over at Ralph Lauren to make sure that they were able to get their orders in. It was a crazy thing. There were customers in the showroom at three o’clock in the morning. There were people waiting to see if they could get an appointment to buy Ralph Lauren.”
S E L L E C K: “I used to fight with Michael Crichton when new stuff came in at the Polo store in Beverly Hills. We were the same size and we’re tall. And it was really great for tall guys, the way Ralph cut his stuff.”
MARCUS WAINWRIGHT ( D E S I GNER, R AG & B ONE) : “My initial reading of Ralph was that he was the pinnacle of fashion for a young 17-year-old in England. And hence the first thing that I ever bought that was even vaguely from a designer brand was something from Ralph, which was a classic red sweatshirt. I bought it in a little shop in Méribel in France, and I still have it.”
TOM HI D D L E STON ( ACTOR): “I think it was a blue jumper I bought, and it lasted me a long time. I tend to wear things until they fall apart. It was a beautiful colour, and it worked in winter and summer. I remember that.” Eventually a new generation of models and designers started changing the face of fashion. The common thread? They had all worked at the same place, under the same guy. People started calling it Ralph Lauren University. T YS ON B EC K FORD ( MODEL A ND ACTOR): “He was like this image I’d already had in my head. But then when I met him, he was just this really sweet, well-dressed gentleman and you hung on every word he said. You have this whole staff of people standing around him like he was the president of the United States. And there he is engaging with you, just talking about regular stuff.”
NAOMI CAMPBELL ( MODEL A ND ACTRESS): “Wow. They’re going to use two black models in one ad in America. That’s what I remember thinking when I learned that I was doing the Polo ad campaign with Tyson Beckford in 1995. People in fashion tell you things all the time, and when the time comes, things change. But I’d known Ralph since I was 17, and I knew he was a man of his word. To pair me with Tyson for that campaign—to have two black models in a single ad—was astounding.” Esquire, 2007.
The 50th-anniversary coffeetable book celebratingthe brand.
Lauren on the cover of ourSeptember 1987 issue.