After 45 years in the biz, Ralph Lauren must have a fair few tales up his perfectly-pressed sleeve. And who better to coax them out of him than Oprah Winfrey? That's exactly what the former TV queen did on Monday night, but this wasn’t for any old chat show – oh no. THIS was a swanky gala dinner held in celebration of the American designer in New York. And rather than a hooting studio audience, major industry insiders were amongst the 1,000 strong crowd, including Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furstenberg and Hollywood types Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman and Jessica Alba. Yikes, no pressure then!
In a ‘This Is Your Life’ stylee, a video recapping Lauren’s finest moments – everything from catwalk shows to campaign images – were played alongside footage of him at home with his wife and kids (aww!). When asked how he prepared for the evening, Mr Lauren replied, ‘I didn’t ask to see the questions first because I felt it would be much more interesting to see what she asked, and if I can’t answer, I’m going to run!’
Luckily, there was no need for a hasty escape, as Oprah did nothing but shower the designer with praise. ‘Now he would tell you that the fabric of America defined his work but truly in so many ways, he actually designed the fabric of America as we all know it today,’ she said while wearing a red silk gown that the designer custom made for her. ‘The name Ralph Lauren evokes a flawless picture of who we can be, on our very best day. It evokes a lifestyle, the kind that we all wish we could live.’ Too true, Ms O.
During their revealing chat, Mr Lauren was visibly moved as they discussed his journey from a Bronx upbringing to the dazzling heights of running a fashion empire. ‘We all become something we work on becoming...I worked and had a vision. I didn’t know where my vision was going to take me, so the lifestyle that I have now is something I never thought I’d have... I think somewhere along the way, this is what happened.’
While revealing the secrets of his success, Mr Lauren dished out advice for up-coming designers looking to follow in his footsteps. ‘Believe in what you’re doing, and stick to your guns,’ he said. ‘If you work hard and have that dedication, it will bring you happiness and success.’ And there were more than a few laughs too — yep, Ralph is one witty guy! Asked how he keeps reinventing after over 40 years, the poker-faced designer replied, ‘You copy — that's why I am still here, Oprah.’ Chortle!
By the end, everyone was in awe. ‘He has made fashion a viable business without comprising his vision. It’s incredible,’ Prabal Gurung trilled. ‘How does he stay on course to his vision? I just want a few formulas to take with me back to my office.’ And over a lavish dinner, guests reminisced about their personal RL memories. ‘I think it may have been a blazer,' Camilla Belle said of her first Ralph Lauren purchase. 'I wore it a lot; it just fits perfectly and it goes with everything.’ Meanwhile, Jessica Alba was dreaming of ‘having that ranch, riding on a horse, wearing a Ralph Lauren cape.’ Pass us the jodhpurs and we’ll see you there, missy!
So let’s take a closer look at who wore what — funnily enough, there were a LOT of Ralph Lauren floor-sweepers...
Jessica Alba, Uma Thurman, Camilla Belle
Lily Aldridge, Chanel Iman and Hilary Rhoda, Naomi Watts
Kerry Washington, Diane Von Furstenberg, Lauren Bush Lauren