Very Ralph (2019) Movie Script

It is perhaps the ultimate accolade,
not merely to have your name known,
but to have it become an adjective.
Memories feel Proustian,
music sounds Mozartian,
and clothing, linens, furniture
and even whole rooms
can be very Ralph Lauren.
Dearest Ralph,
as a designer, you conjure up
all things I most care about.
The country, misty mornings,
summer afternoons,
great open spaces, horses,
cornfields, vegetable gardens,
and Jack Russell terriers.
Your story is not about trends,
or fleeting moments,
but about values,
and things that last.
You've not only created a total concept
of fashion and style,
but by your consistency
and integrity,
protected it, always reminding us
of the best things in life.
And if you say
something is very Ralph Lauren,
you're immediately understood.
Everything in this room is a mix
of everything that I love.
They're gifts from friends,
gifts from people in the company.
They all mean something
and they're not just things.
I'm inspired by everything that I see.
You know, I love old things,
I love cowboy boots, I love details.
I love cars.
They're sort of the beginnings
of a concept.
Somehow it all ends up in my clothes.
We oughta work on something
that's a little lighter.
This is authentic but maybe we need
to do a feminine version of that.
I never thought
I was in the fashion business.
If someone asked "are you a fashion
designer", "no, I hate fashion".
I think anti-fashion was always
something that Ralph was inspired by.
So it really comes out of just a gut
that Ralph has,
this amazing instinct.
Ralph always says I never went
to fashion school,
he doesn't do his own sketches.
Not all designers do,
but many of them do.
These are great. I love these.
I think he was freed.
I think it was an amazing thing
that he didn't have that training.
I didn't have the training
to cut the garment
or do some of the things
that designers do.
But I had the eye.
And I don't know where it came from.
When I was growing up,
I didn't even know what a designer was.
But my father was an artist.
The color somehow comes
from my father.
My father was a painter.
He made paintings
and murals in offices
and churches and synagogues.
I'd watch him up on scaffolds
painting and I'd say:
"Wow, it's amazing."
But I didn't have his talent.
But somehow I was given
something else.
The artistry came in another way.
Ralph had this special thing
that rose to the surface.
He had such a great creativity
and imagination.
I always felt a little special about
who I was.
Was I Eddie Fisher ?
Or was I whoever the star was
at the moment ?
When I was a kid,
I'd go into a dance
and the girls, somehow I could feel
that they liked me.
And I couldn't figure out what it was,
whether I was really handsome
or it was my imagination.
But I enjoyed if someone said
I was cute.
He had a natural affinity
for finding things
and putting himself together
that made him special.
"Where did you find that, Ralph ?"
Maybe he'd find a local store
that had an old army jacket
and he'd wear that.
Or maybe he'd grab a jacket
and was stylish, and it was like boom.
Everybody looked around and said:
"That's great ! That's cool."
He just had style.
I saw Ralph when I was a teenager.
We both grew up in the Bronx.
I remember seeing him because
he dressed in a way
that was so different
from everyone else,
and I thought how cool that he has
the courage to walk around like that.
He had a very personal look.
When I was fourteen, my friend
took me up to his house.
And then he opened
his father's closet.
I saw all these shoes
with shoe trees in them.
And I said: "Wow, look at that."
I went home and looked at my closet.
It was shoes piled up. I hardly could
find one shoe after the other shoe
I lived in a small little room
with my two older brothers.
I had the cot.
And I realized that I can't wait
to get out of here
so that I can have my own drawers
and my own things.
I grew up in a very humble way.
My parents were European,
came to this country when they were
16 or 17 years old.
And they took care of us
and loved us.
I always had a nice home life
with my parents
and my brothers and sister.
But you are always aspiring.
You set your dreams.
You're looking out at the world
a little bit,
learning that life could be better.
I could see that there was something
that he was creating,
that I think later on
he would use in his design rooms.
The vision was the same.
He had this idea about lifestyle,
buying into "you can live this way"
through his clothes.
Thank you.
Want to take a look ?
When models walk into my office,
they're 18 years old,
no sophistication.
- Where are you from ?
- I'm from Germany.
All of a sudden they become
something else.
The star of your movie.
- Hi.
- The light went out.
- I think she's good.
- Yup, she's good.
I like very natural women.
Not too much makeup.
She just wears a pair of jeans
and a t-shirt.
Not the girl with all the fashion
and the designer clothes.
And I love long hair.
Hair blowing in the wind,
That's what my vision is.
That's what my wife looks like.
My mother is his muse.
She has a great sense
of personal style and simplicity.
She's beautiful
and she's very natural.
My dad does not like any makeup
on me or her.
He wants very natural beauty.
She really just is so down to earth.
My mom's sort of a tomboy jock
and elegant woman.
My mom walks into a room
and she just looks natural
and her dress is flowing
and he says:
"Wow, you look beautiful."
And then he'll go into the office
and says:
"You should have seen how Ricky
walked in, what she did."
"The way she was dressed...
That's what I'm trying to capture,"
"a little bit of that spirit."
His different characters come to life,
but they all have pieces
of my mom in them.
I grew up passing Ricky's door
in the Bronx, but we'd never met.
When I met Ricky,
she was 19 and a half years old.
There was an honesty and an integrity
to her, and a sweetness.
And by accident, she happened
to have been beautiful.
He said: "If I asked you,
would you go out with me ?"
And I said: "I don't know,
ask and we'll see."
But he was thought I was being
very clever and coy,
but I wasn't. I was innocent
and I said what I felt.
I was 24 years old
and I was not looking to get married.
But we fell in love and it was like,
after about the fourth date I thought,
"this is the girl I'm gonna marry".
We were children.
We were living there in the Bronx.
We were still kids.
We had a small apartment
with a pullman kitchen,
a kitchen that's in the same room
as the living room.
We had nothing.
We slept on the floor
on a mattress.
And that was the beginning.
We had a train above our heads,
the L.
It was like a movie.
We would hear the noise.
It was like
"Barefoot in the Park".
When the train went by
and the whole room...
It's sort of the young married couple.
And I remember we had a phone
and the phone
was a turquoise princess.
And I never, ever thought I'd have a
turquoise princess phone in my house.
But we loved the phone
cause it was so modern.
And we'd go down
to Greenwich Village
and there was a store that sold furs.
And they sold patchwork furs
very often.
And we'd go searching around
for interesting things
that we could decorate the house with.
We had a bulletin board.
And on the bulletin board
we would tack dream pictures,
things we loved.
Like he would put
a Morgan sports car.
Or a beautiful place.
Anything that we loved at the time.
His father was an artist.
And he was able to do faux bois,
which is fake wood.
He painted it.
The walls of the living room were wood,
but not "really wood".
They were painted.
And we painted
all the little trim in the house
and they were wrought iron
and we made 'em like gold.
We stayed up all night long gilding.
It was ridiculous.
With those fur rugs and everything
else that we had accumulated.
We didn't have very much,
but we were happy with what we had.
You like that ? You want a bag ?
Like a very cool bag ?
The one with the studs was...
It doesn't have to be a ponytail,
but there's something chic...
When you see her hair up,
you want it more dramatic.
Yeah, let me see that.
That looks beautiful.
The bag looks a little rugged.
I didn't know what my story
was going to be.
I didn't say I'm gonna be
this great fashion designer,
or whatever you wanna call it.
But even as a young man,
I had a story.
He always had a sense about
what he wanted to look like,
how he wanted his clothes to look.
When he was a tie salesman,
he and Ricky had just gotten married,
and he went to a custom tailor
and just told him what he wanted.
No training whatsoever.
And he designed his wardrobe
with this tailor.
The Daily News Record,
which was the
menswear daily newspaper,
did a story on Ralph back in 1964,
on his personal style.
"Finding the right item ready-made often
proves impossible for Ralph Lauren."
This is three years
before he started his business.
He was just this dashing man
about town who,
because he couldn't find exactly
what he wanted in the stores,
was having his clothes custom-made
while he was a salesman.
I just knew what I wanted.
I had this passion to get something,
and no one was doing it.
So I'm saying: "I wanna buy a tie.
I wanna wear the wide tie."
I would go to a tiemaker
and have them make ties for me.
Why I wanted the wide tie ?
Maybe I saw it in old movies
and they looked great.
Maybe it was on Fred Astaire
and I liked the look.
And I said: "I want that."
But I didn't know where to buy it.
I saw 'em in the movies,
but I didn't see 'em in the stores.
I had ideas about newness.
And so I started out making these ties
and I made them unusual.
My ties were handmade,
they were special.
My mom would sit there with a cousin
of hers and they'd sew the labels
into the neckwear.
And my dad helped Ralph
make swatch cards.
And it was kind of like everybody
pitching in.
The office really was
the tiniest little thing
in the Empire State Building.
And all he had was a drawer.
And in the drawer, he had the samples
of the ties and the fabrics.
I called the brand Polo because
I always loved sports.
And I thought well, I couldn't call it
baseball or basketball.
And Polo sounded sort of sporty.
It sounds like a master plan,
it wasn't a master plan.
I didn't think about that. I said this
is what I wanna do. I like these ties,
I'm gonna make them wider,
I think they're gonna like it.
I brought it over to Bloomingdale's.
Because Bloomingdale's was
the entre into every store,
'cause every store, at that time,
was shopping Bloomingdale's
to see what was new,
who the new resource is,
what's happening.
And I brought the ties
to Bloomingdale's.
The buyer looked at the tie
and said: "Ralph, it's too wide."
"Would you make it a little narrower,
and would you take your label off ?"
"We wanna have our store brand."
When our tie buyer asked him to take
the Ralph Lauren label off the ties,
he simply closed up his sample case
and walked away.
I don't know what gave me
the guts to say no.
Not selling to a major store that was
gonna give you all that exposure,
because I want 'em to be
the way I designed it
and this is the brand
and this is the name.
Right then and there,
that was gonna be his first opportunity
to really do some business
or whatever and he walked away.
Forget about it.
You don't have to buy my stuff,
I'm not gonna give you your label.
When he told me,
it got me kind of nervous.
But I wrote him a letter
and in the letter I said:
"I'm not going to be in your way. I'm
going to wish for you the wings to fly,"
"and I'll be there with you."
"Whatever you do, I'm there for you."
I loved what she wrote.
It was very deep-felt.
Ricky's parents came from Vienna.
They left when Hitler came.
She grew up hearing
what they lived through,
and so, she wanted stability.
She was saying: "I believe in you,
and I think you're gonna do it."
And I did it.
Bloomingdale's came back to me.
The Polo Tie, by Ralph Lauren,
all linen in 10 smashing colors.
12,50 at Bloomingdale's,
the Father's Day store.
When you have a four-inch tie
instead of a three-inch
or two-and-a-half-inch, it changes
the way someone looks.
When you had a wide tie,
the next step is you need different
shirts and different collars.
Now you have new ties, new shirts,
and you need new suits.
That was the era of the '60s,
the time when the whole
men's business
really was going through change.
And I found a whole world of ideas.
The timing was interesting.
The world was changing.
Fashion was happening for men.
It was the early '60's when men
wore a uniform.
There was just very, very prescribed
ways of dressing.
It was the '60's Mad Men era.
Men's clothes were
still very, very conservative.
I knew how to do the ties.
But I didn't stop from there.
I just kept going.
What am I gonna wear with the ties ?
We gotta make a shirt.
Gotta make a suit.
I found a suit maker,
a shirt maker.
All of a sudden, they're buying
the ties, they're loving the ties.
What else you make Ralph ?
I have shirts.
He was doing
very flamboyant shirtings
and these wide lapel suits.
And so, it was news.
And I was a journalist,
so of course, I wrote about him,
because it was fantastic.
He had done this
linen belted back suit.
No one was doing wrinkled,
unconstructed suits.
You can picture guys in the '30's.
And I immediately thought of Gatsby.
"The look comes straight off
Gatsby's lawn."
He started with, you know, the kind
of clothes he wanted to wear,
the characters he would like to be.
He wanted to tell stories,
and that was completely new and
revolutionary in the men's arena.
He basically created the menswear
industry, as a designer reality.
When I was starting out,
the designer name
was not appealing to men.
They were used to buying in certain
companies, certain brand stores.
But designers were for the women
and the tailor was for the man.
As long as it has
the folds it in, Jerry.
Ralph took some of the great classics
and made them relevant.
He made them better.
Better fabrics, better fit.
And Ralph's taste...
Bob, if you want to take off
your hat, take off your hat.
He has a very critical eye.
And Buffy Birrittella was so attuned
to him
that she knew exactly
what he wanted.
The attention to detail,
whether it's a shirt
or a shoulder on a jacket,
those were things that he trained
my eye on very, very early on.
For chairman of the board,
I don't know.
So when you go out there,
take your time.
Walk back and forth across the and up and down.
One of the things he was trying to do
was to meld
the custom tailoring
of English Savile Row
with an American sensibility.
But it was the spirit of the clothes,
not just the technical details
that made me see clothes
in a whole other way.
I knew I had to work for him.
Buffy was my right-arm.
She understood the clothes.
I showed her a jacket, she got it.
Her eye was good.
He's very competitive.
He's very sure of himself.
He had a real sense about who
he was and what he wanted to do.
Some would characterize it
as cockiness,
but I saw it more as confidence.
He just had a real belief and passion
about what he was doing.
Ralph came to me
and said I need a shop.
And in his typical, calm,
understated way, he said:
"Marvin, if I don't have a shop,
I can't sell to you anymore."
We gave him a shop.
And really planned one
in the middle of our main floor.
I mean going into Bloomingdale's...
I mean, owning a store
within a store...
I said: "How did Ralph get
on the first floor of Bloomingdale's,"
"where all the bags and the makeup
and the jewelry was ?"
But no, Ralph is right there.
He had front stage.
Always had.
Ralph had the whole picture.
Bloomingdale's, Marvin Traub
particularly, was a believer.
I became their guy. And they said:
"Keep going Ralph, we want more."
But it grew too fast. And I didn't have
the right bankers at the time.
There was a certain point
in the very early days,
where Ralph almost lost
the whole business.
In the early 70's,
before we started licensing,
the company had overextended
at the bank.
The money going out was far
extending the money coming in.
We couldn't even, I believe,
make our payroll.
I just remember, like,
one of the guys said:
"Ralph, you're out of business."
I remember I was so scared.
I was sweating, but it was cold.
I was worried
about telling my father.
I thought, the one person...
I had this vision of telling my father
I went out of business.
I got up in the morning.
It was raining.
And I don't know why,
but I put on a white jacket
and white pants.
I hardly ever wear all white suit.
And I was walking in the rain
and I said to myself:
"I'm going to make it back.
I'm not gonna let this happen."
I went to my partner, Larry Lockman,
and said:
"We have to advance credit
to the Ralph Lauren company,"
"so they can buy piece goods
in order to ship to Bloomingdale's."
Something we hadn't done
for other people.
I saved some little money.
I put everything that I had
back into the company.
And I made it back.
I had a voice, I had a showcase,
I can do this.
Designer as a store,
not just a designer as a tie or shirt.
The designer as a business.
You think you have to convince me ?
I'm sitting here like:
"It's gonna be hard to convince us."
What's strange about this ?
The only thing strange is we should've
been there two or five years ago.
One of the biggest flaws
in so many fashion people
is that they're brilliant, they're
clever, they have beautiful ideas,
but they really don't have
any business sense.
He clearly has an extraordinary
business acumen as well.
Ralph knew exactly
what he was doing.
He had a sixth sense to know
what the world needs.
I'm in the business of fashion.
It sounds like a frivolous thing.
And not important.
But I think it's important that people
express who they are.
Fashion has to be desirable
and give somebody some kind
of emotional reaction to it.
And Ralph sees that
and understands that
and he gives them the whole package.
He always looked at clothes
in a cinematic way.
How they created a character.
What they said.
What images they conjured up.
What moods.
Thinking about the man
as a character in his own movie.
Anytime I've ever tried to find
the tweed jacket or a hacking jacket
or a specific type of trench coat
like Rick's trench coat
from Casablanca
or his white double-breasted
dinner jacket,
it doesn't exist anywhere.
Then you'll walk into a Ralph Lauren
boutique and you're like:
"Oh my God, he's made it."
These are Ralph Lauren pants.
He has the kind of things I like.
The tweed jackets
and those kind of shirts
and corduroy trousers.
But he doesn't dress me. I've been
dressing myself since I was 48.
I've always thought of him as more
than just a fashion designer
or a businessman,
I thought of him as a cultural force,
that he changed the way that we all
looked at how we should dress
and how we wanted to.
Mr. Lauren is with us this morning
to talk about what's coming up
in men's clothing,
about his own attitude toward design,
and what we can expect to pay
in the weeks ahead.
I came from a rural working-class
background, but I was ambitious.
I didn't want to wear
the same suits my father wore.
My father had one suit
and he wore it for everything.
But even the best dressed guys in town
were all in old men's suits
and I didn't want to do that.
But there were no other choices for us.
Then suddenly,
there was this guy Ralph Lauren.
There is an attitude about clothes today
that is much more relaxed
and unfashionable fashion.
And my role, in terms of what I've
believed in and what I wear,
is that I don't really want to look
like a fashion plate.
I remember talking
to certain people.
They said: "Ralph, I'd love to wear
what you're wearing,"
"but I can't. I don't know.
it's not me."
"I like the jeans and I like the cowboy
boots and the tweed jacket."
Now, every guy I know has tweeds
and jeans and cowboy boots.
I think western clothes
are as traditional as a tweed jacket,
and I love things that are not fashion.
I love things that have
a sense of aging,
that have a background
of lifestyle behind it.
What I feel I've given is a certain
romantic fantasy to the clothes.
He finds beauty in every aspect
of American culture,
whether it be Native American,
whether it be cowboy,
whether it's the Ivy League culture.
And he finds the, sort of,
nobility in each of those
and he created the idealized versions
of the clothing.
Ralph Lauren democratized
the whole idea of what was stylish.
And that's the story of America.
He was the first one to say:
"No, you know, I think that the guy
that is the Gl"
"or the guy that is the cowboy,
or the guy that's the working man"
"he can be just as cool
as an aristocrat."
The key to his success
is an instinctive understanding
that his taste spoke for millions
and millions of people.
It wasn't trying to figure out what
they like. It was what he liked.
And he was betting that
what he liked, they would like,
and he was very, very right.
You think Ralph Lauren Polo.
That's what you think, Polo.
The most exclusive,
kingly sport that there is.
That requires you to own horses,
to know how to ride them.
Ralph Lauren Polo.
It wouldn't be Ralph Lifshitz Polo.
That wouldn't work.
A lot of people thought that Ralph
had changed his name
because he wanted
to be more WASPy.
Absolutely not true.
I am the person who created
the name change.
Throughout life, having a name
like L-I-F-S-H-I-T-Z,
Lifshitz, was a tough thing
to live with.
Ralph and I both went
to the Rabbi Israel Salanter Yeshiva.
And in Yeshiva, even though their
names were Goldberg and Silverberg
and Silverstein and Cohen
and Lifshitz,
somebody still said: "Hi, Shitzy."
There was never a moment
when I want to escape my origins,
but I said: "Lenny and Ralph,
I want to tell you something."
"I'd like for us to change our names.
If you guys would like to do it,"
"I'm ready to do it.
I don't need this shit anymore."
When I read that,
the reference to his name,
I think there was a smidgen
of anti-Semitism there.
It was like: "Who's this little Jew
to tell us how to dress up ?"
And I wrote a column
to defend Ralph Lauren.
He was coming on, you know.
He was becoming bigger and bigger.
And they always pointed out
that he was from the Bronx
and his name was Lifshitz,
that's his real name.
Elbow jab, "he's just a Lifshitz".
And I resented it.
I said: "No ! This isn't something bad,
this is good !"
And I likened Ralph to the Hollywood
moguls of the thirties and the forties.
L.B. Mayer, who was the head
of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios.
Sam Goldwyn, another one.
The Warner brothers,
all but one were born overseas.
You can go through the list and say:
"They're all immigrants".
These guys had an idea in their head.
They were really good
when it came to feeling the pulse
of the American people.
Come this way, sir.
And that's the eye of the outsider.
That's what Ralph has.
I thought that Ralph Lauren,
like these guys, created a look.
He was telling people:
"This is the great american look."
And how do I know it ? Because first,
he saw it in the movies.
All you need is a frame now
and you'd be a masterpiece.
My dad was a product of the movies.
He grew up wanting to be like
the stars on the silver screen.
He loved the style.
He had heroes.
And I think those heroes inspired him.
He wanted to be bigger and better
than where he came from.
I think he had aspirations to not only
dress the part,
but be the man and move past
his upbringing
and become somebody special.
Movies had a great impact on me
because they opened a window
to a world that I didn't grow up with.
The idealization of the WASPy
American dream
is a Hollywood notion,
is a Jewish notion,
is a fashion business notion
in America.
And Ralph Lauren's work is very much
about class, about aspiration.
Like Hollywood, he sold America
on a version of the American dream.
I was always inspired
by the '30's or '40's movies.
Movies made somewhere
around the Depression.
They always reminded me of happy,
make-believe glamour.
Those movies have always made me
feel good.
You could go to the movies for
ten cents and watch a comedy
set in a penthouse,
in which the ladies were wearing
bias-cut charmeuse evening gowns
and the men were in impeccable
white tie or tuxedos.
And everybody was smoking
and drinking martinis.
This fantasy of the glamour
of a beautiful penthouse
and an elegant party is one part
of the Ralph Lauren fantasy.
In the Ralph Lauren version of that,
it's only the elegance
and the beauty.
Nobody's drunk.
Nobody's throwing a martini glass
and smashing it.
Ralph Lauren has always understood
that people want the world
to be comfortable.
They don't really want the world
to be full of edge and harshness
and bitterness.
They want the world to be right.
The brand is there
to make you smile.
And to make you feel like
you're dressing the part.
Ralph Lauren is not interested
in stirring the pot.
He's not interested in the nitty gritty.
In another era, he would have been one
of the great producers in Hollywood.
He would've been able to conjure
those dreams
that this kid from the Bronx saw
at the movie houses
and wanted to fully engage in.
With Ralph,
the proscenium has disappeared
and he thinks it is possible
to walk through into the screen
and be fully in those worlds,
just as he was.
He has built his own world
from a very young age.
And in that world,
the romance, the allure,
the dream is alive.
So it's not a dream anymore,
it's a dream manifested.
I always wanted a beach house.
I had no money,
so Ricky and I would just walk
around the beach and say:
"If you could have anyway you'd want
to live, how would you want to live ?"
This is such a beautiful spot.
I have a very hectic life
and when I get away,
I need to get away where I have
the simplicity of life.
And I do feel
that my family comes first.
My birthday money from when
I was a little girl went to
starting our family.
And I was an only child,
so having three children was a big deal
for me. I was so happy.
And it was my job to be the mother.
To be there to support Ralph
as he went forward with his dreams.
And it was important for us all
to be part of his dreams,
living the dreams together.
My children were always part
of everything.
We weren't very social because
I have never had time.
I wanted to be with my family.
So on weekends, where everyone's
going to everyone's houses,
I remember saying to a friend:
"I'd love to be with you,
but it's summer."
"I'm gonna be with my family."
I remember walking with Ricky one day.
And in East Hampton,
there are parties on the weekends.
And all of a sudden,
we were not invited to anything.
I'd see cars parked in front
of all these houses,
people going to parties,
to dinner parties.
"I guess they forgot about us, Ricky."
Sometimes you want to be invited,
but you don't necessarily want to go.
But when they stop inviting you,
then there's a problem.
Ralph totally believes
in the importance of family.
It's rare to see him out and about.
Ralph in a way is quite isolated.
And he has a very close-knit group,
with whom he feels comfortable
and can be himself.
His family and people
that have been with him for years.
I think he feels most at home,
and most secure
in these amazing environments
that he's created for himself.
And maybe remaining in that cocoon
has kept his vision strong.
Remember the layering looks good too.
Do we have any more
of those dresses ?
Do we have any more dresses
than this ? More dresses ?
After I had success,
it built on more success.
We need more of this.
Do we have more ?
And I started to believe
I can do things.
And it kept coming.
But I didn't think I would ever do
women's clothes.
I'd lose the color here.
I want to see how this could look
a little sexier,
a little more evening.
Because it looks a looks a little young.
I love the way we look here.
Menswear is easier for me
because I'm a man.
I can say that I want those pants.
But when I'm doing women's clothes,
I feel like I've stretched.
I need it to be more sophisticated.
Let's see without your hat.
I think you can fix this up,
but the white skirt bothers me a little.
He knows the fabric,
he knows the silhouette.
She looks sophisticated.
That's what I like.
He knows what he wants to say.
They look a little too overpowered.
He's shown it all
by the people who bring it in.
And he'll go:
"That, that, that, that."
That's beautiful.
It could be day or night.
It depends on what we don't have.
The red could be good.
This is very sophisticated.
Let me see that.
That's good. Let me see that.
One of the great delights of Ralph
is just this sense that his woman can be
in an absolutely drop-dead,
incredible, simple black dress.
And at the same time, astride a horse,
wearing a beautiful silk t-shirt
and a pair of well-cut jeans.
I just think that he loves women
in a way
that other fashion designers really
just don't.
He understands women,
he respects women.
Maybe she doesn't need a matching
belt because of the belt on the jacket.
He celebrates women.
- That's good, that's perfect.
- That's a great mix.
Womenswear really started because
Ricky and I were saying:
"Gosh, those are great men's clothes.
Make 'em smaller."
"We wanna wear them."
With Ricky first, we'd go shopping
and she'd go into a boys store
that had hacking jackets
and so I'd put the jacket on Ricky
and say: "That looks great. I want
that. That's what I wanna do."
He said: "Well, I think my muse would
look wonderful if she wore slacks"
"that were pleated. And put her
hands in her pockets"
"and had a great man tailored jacket."
"Or a beautiful silk shirt with a bow.
Or even a necktie."
He was seeing me
and making things for me the way
he thought I would look good.
And he certainly knew how to do
the men's tailoring for women.
The first things we did for women,
when I first started,
were shirts, but they were made
in the men's factory.
He had an image in his mind's eye
of what the collar should be.
And the stitches per inch
and what kind of buttons it should be
and what the width of the plaque
it should be.
The tailor would go back and make
something and show Ralph
and then we'd fix it
and tweak it some more
and back and forth
and back and forth.
The attention to every single detail
on the shirt took an entire day,
to fit and perfect one shirt.
At the beginning, Ralph would have
the fashion show in his office,
which was a living room with a fireplace
and we'd have folding chairs.
Ralph would stand in front
of the fireplace.
He would talk about the clothes,
it was very informal.
And he had Persian rugs
and velvet sofas.
And the showrooms were
what would have been bedrooms.
Didn't look like
anybody else's showroom
because it was somebody's apartment.
He just loved the idea
of this homey place.
The first small show I did
in my offices.
I had never been to a fashion show.
After that show,
I called my staff in,
which was two people, I think.
I said: "I just want you to know that
this is it.
"I want to quit the women's.
I want to leave on top."
"I had a good show and I don't think
I can go anywhere else."
How am I gonna do skirts ?
I don't know anything about skirts
and dresses.
I didn't have enough training.
But I found seamstresses and sewers
on Seventh Avenue
and had them sketch the looks
of the girls
and what I thought
they should look like.
And then we made the clothes
based on that.
Back in the 70's and 80's,
he defined how the American woman
was changing.
How a modern woman was emerging
and what her needs were
and what her life was.
He saw their liberation,
he saw their freedom.
Whenever you have a designer
putting a woman in a tuxedo,
you're going against the idea of
and the stereotype,
of what a woman is supposed to be
and what is she supposed to look like.
He just had this vision
of the Ralph Lauren woman.
Fresh, American, natural,
different than what been
going on before.
I'd been modeling
for French designers.
Everything was like a caricature.
Purple fuchsia lipstick,
lacquer on the eyes,
lacquer on the hair.
And Ralph said:
"Wash her face. Brush her hair.
No makeup."
And I remember thinking at the time:
"Oh my God,
this is something new !"
I was so stunned
because for the first time,
it was a picture of me.
A picture of a woman.
It wasn't a picture
of somebody's beauty ideal.
If Ralph has one regret, it'll be
that he was not a movie director.
I could see just how cinematic
his mind is.
When he talks about an ad campaign,
he's not about trying
to sell his clothes.
He understands almost
more than anyone I've met
the potency of the American Dream.
He had a very big story to tell.
How better to do it than to have the
New York Times Magazine come out
and you've got a 17-page spread
of beautiful people,
beautiful life, beautiful lifestyle.
Something that is aspirational,
but attainable.
He was the first to do it.
And when the ads came in,
it was like an event.
People wanted to see that campaign,
it was as much of a thing
in the culture
as the release
of a new book or film.
As Polo Ralph Lauren began
to become a national presence,
those ads created an image
that was incredibly powerful,
deeply alluring.
And different
from what other people were doing.
If you look at the early ads,
we would go off and shoot
sometimes two weeks at a time.
And we would pack up
all these suitcases.
Men's clothes and the women's clothes
and the children's clothes
and the home collections.
And we'd create,
you know, that world
We cast our movies.
Most of them were not models.
One of the men was an architect
and was the husband of the fashion
editor of Mademoiselle Magazine.
And Ralph thought he had great style.
He had this moustache.
We had sisters of somebody
and children of these people.
Ralph would find some,
Bruce would find some.
Buffy would grab
like a piece of jewelry
that she really loved and Ralph
would give us things from his closet.
It wasn't the normal way of working
in the fashion business,
where it was storyboarded.
One of the things that drew
Ralph to Bruce Weber,
Bruce's pictures were very evocative
and very real and very anti-fashion.
Usually, you have an agency
that comes and they research
and they give you a look.
I didn't need the agency for that.
I knew exactly who I was
and what I wanted to say
and I knew what I wanted
for advertising.
I needed to tell a story.
When I was on the set,
they would give me all these stories.
"Tim, this is your house.
You just inherited it from your uncle."
"But you try not to let
the other family members know yet."
"And then Isabelle's your wife."
They dress you up
in these beautiful clothes.
By the time you starts shooting,
I mean you really believe this.
I'd pick the girls, I'd pick the guys,
I gave them the background.
It's not even about the clothes.
It really creates
the cinematic vision of a life.
In working with Bruce, who is such
an American photographer
and so much adores the American way
of life and family
and children and dogs
and horses,
together they created this Ralph Lauren
myth that exists today.
If Ralph is called out for anything,
and called out is a big phrase,
because it's very hard to argue
with the man's success,
it is for the constancy
of his aspirational point-of-view,
and his optimistic point-of-view.
He's a patriot, so he channels
all these dreams about America
uncritically into his work
and everybody is overjoyed to see them
because they wanna believe that too.
Americans are very attached
to our utopian notions.
We'd done some pictures
of just this pristine white barn
and it was a misty morning.
And he said: "That's my ad."
It just said Ralph Lauren Country.
There were no models,
there was nothing.
And I just remember Bruce Weber said:
"That's one of the bravest things
I think Ralph ever did in advertising."
You wanted to step into that picture
and you wanted to live in that world
and you wanted to live in that barn.
I think people have sometimes
dismissed Ralph as a marketer
because his advertising campaigns
were so extraordinarily visionary.
You are not just buying
an article of clothing.
You've joined a narrative. And that's
very different than what fashion is.
The ads had a language of elegance
and a timeless, classic quality.
It was a lifestyle that spoke to me
as a young aspiring black man
in the South.
It's a classic statement about style.
Ralph Lauren also broke
the codes when he had Tyson Beckford
in those beautiful fitted suits.
You opened the magazine, a GQ,
and you saw that it was just like:
"Oh my God,
what is this, who is this ?"
Even I said: "Who is this ?"
This young man comes along,
and I guess it was just
in Ralphs eye.
Tyson had something that was street,
yet elegant. And he was dark
and very handsome.
It was a big thing
in the black community
for someone of my color and my mixed
race to be in something like that.
No one had done that before,
on that level.
Here is a black man in a three,
four thousand dollar suit
in a GQ magazine.
Wall Street guys were looking
at this and CEOs, businessmen,
were looking like: "This suit is nice.
This is really nice."
"I need to go get this."
Ralph has always, at a time when
it was not so socially acceptable,
championed diversity.
He was one of the first to use
in a very meaningful way
in his advertising campaigns
and in his runway shows.
It wasn't a token person.
You know, let's just check that box.
He would use them
in remarkably strong images
and they would become the face
of Ralph Lauren.
And not many other people were doing it
at the time Ralph stood up and did it.
It was a big deal to have
two people of color
be in a nationwide
or worldwide ad campaign.
When you can create a point
of intersection,
between enough popularity to make
a very large and successful business
and enough creativity
to make it feel interesting,
then you're kind of on to something.
Ralph has been inspired
by so many things
that he hasn't been confined
to one look.
I'm taking things from different worlds.
And there are certain things
that I love.
English riding.
They're all romantic stories.
When I'm working on a collection,
I'm thinking of characters
and people and movies and books.
They're all part of what goes in
and then comes out
and things that I never knew I had,
things that I never knew
I carried with me,
are revealed as I start to work.
My childhood, and growing up,
and my dreams of future,
everything I've experienced,
everything I've seen.
The creative process to him
is like breathing.
There's walls full of clothes
and sketches.
The inspiration can come
from anywhere.
From an old book, from a painting
he might have seen.
Something in a magazine
that sparked his imagination.
The movie, Aviator,
was coming out and I said:
"That's what I want to do."
And I just started to work
on my next season's collection.
I had to take that
and build a whole world around it.
If he's got the aviator mood,
he's in a room
and there's Amelia Earhart and there
might even be Katharine Hepburn.
He had done all the research
of the aviator looks.
All of that,
it's all in the mood boards.
These are rooms,
they are the mood rooms.
He's gathering information,
and it's very, kind of, free-form.
And the characters, they're coming
to him as he's working.
It's like an artist, keeps adding
a layer, keeps adding a new color.
It's like building a statue out of clay,
you take these pieces of clay
and then you start to mold it.
Everything is about a story.
It's never about a blouse
or a pair of pants.
He's from the same home town
as Antonio Banderas
He had a vision of the Riviera.
Gerald and Sarah Murphy,
the whole expat American thing
back in the 30's.
Hemingway had an effect.
It's just something to spur you on.
So sometimes that's a whole collection,
Sometimes it's a little piece
of something.
It just takes one spark like that.
A picture, a little raggy piece
of denim and he's off.
It's never a literal thing.
It gives you a sense about the color,
the texture,
the mood of the clothes.
It's about wear-ability,
it's about understatement.
I believe in timelessness
that doesn't go out with the trend,
that doesn't go out with age.
What he does is take things
from the world
and embrace
and synthesize influences.
He is not somebody who created
an entirely original way
of seeing and doing things.
Ralph Lauren is not where you turn
for the cutting edge.
That he leaves to other people.
You do not need to have
an intellectual view of fashion
to like Ralph Lauren's work.
You viscerally respond to it.
Not everything works
when you've gotta pull from
your toes through your throat
to get this thing happen.
You sort of have to have
an editor's eye and say:
"I don't think this is good,
put it away."
We always get nervous
when you go on vacation.
After you've signed off on everything,
maybe Buffy will get a phone call.
"I'm rethinking..."
We started one collection
and we were halfway through it.
Bought sample yardage,
we had walls full of clothes
and sketches.
Ralph came back from the holidays
and said: "It's wrong."
I said: "Wait a minute, I can make it
more sophisticated"
"because I don't wanna
look like yesterday."
The next meeting, everything
came off the walls, and he said:
"I think I want to do something cleaner,
sleeker, more contemporary."
"I think I wanna do something
beautiful with grey flannel."
We went and we ordered
all new piece goods.
Creme, creme cashmere,
light grey cashmere,
beautiful mauves and pinks.
And it was a scramble.
But we believe in his instincts
and everyone gets on board.
He has created a team. He sets
a template, he has a DNA.
Everybody understands absolutely
what Ralph really wants.
He's had many of the same people
working for him for years.
I don't do anything alone,
I work with a team of people.
My company's like a repertory.
It's like a family.
They're good, and they understand.
It's a team that's been developed
with my message.
You can't do this alone.
- The contrast here.
- Yeah, the contrast...
One of the things Ralph has always
loved is contradiction.
There's an amazing picture of Naomi
Campbell wearing
like this slinky, beautiful, gold,
glistening dress,
and Ralph throws a safari jacket
over her shoulders.
All high end designers
are trying to deal with
how do you adapt luxury
to the increasingly casual lifestyle.
But Ralph sort of forged a lifestyle
concept before it was a thing.
He did a lot of things
before they were things.
And that's one of them.
Ralph's whole immersion into
performance wear and athletic wear
was a huge thing and it really grew
out of his belief
in the lifestyle concept.
Now, so many people
are jumping to do yoga pants.
Ralph Lauren got into it
a long time ago.
He saw that it wasn't antithetical
to who he is as a designer,
or of his message.
This isn't a change.
It's an expansion.
It's an evolution.
An extension of casual.
And it's funny today that all the young
guys are talking about
wearing track pants
with suit jackets.
And they're like
this is what's happening right now,
it's all about the adaptability
and about expressing
the relationship
with the urban environment.
Guys, Ralph Lauren
was doing that 35 years ago.
If you look back at his history,
you see so much of what designers
are thinking about today.
Taking these very simple items that
you see kids wearing on the street,
whether it's a jogging pant
or a parka or a t-shirt,
and making them fashion.
And Ralph was the first to do that,
and to understand that.
In a way to see how street style would
become the world's uniform.
I had the timing.
Timing when the mood is there.
Who are you ?
What's happening in the world ?
But you have to have a strong vision
and staying power.
For every good designer,
the clothes are an extension
of the person.
It has to come from within him,
and it clearly does.
And his idea was,
it wasn't just a collection of clothes.
It was this complete lifestyle.
And it was all consistent
with this dream that he has.
He really put the world together.
Children, furniture, men's, women's.
The pillows, the sheets,
the blankets.
The duffel bag.
Ralph Lauren was
the very first fashion designer
to design a full home collection.
He took lifestyle and made it
haute style.
He took simple,
everyday beautiful things
and made everybody covet them.
You can buy
a whole Ralph Lauren room.
Every single thing. The hardware.
I've bought some of his hardware.
It's just fabulous.
You can just sort of live
this Ralph Lauren life.
And it's now become the standard
in the industry.
I don't know any brand that aspires
to just be a clothing brand,
everybody aspires
to be a lifestyle brand.
I think Ralph Lauren legitimately
offers up a lifestyle.
I think a lot of other brands
basically just offer up a lot of stuff.
And this window right here is not
gonna go up to the ceiling.
Everything that I have done has been
from my vision of what I would like.
What do I like for my kids,
what do I like for my wife,
what do I like for my house.
It was no one telling me this is new.
There was no one saying: "Do it !"
I did it.
All of a sudden, he's like:
"I gotta do home ware,"
"cause I've gotta put stuff in my house.
I need napkins !"
Every place is a set.
It's my parents' movie.
The house in Bedford, it's an estate.
It feels like you're in England.
And then, they found
a beautiful place in Colorado.
A beach house in Montauk.
An apartment in New York.
And then, Jamaica.
Beach, Western, English.
They conjure up houses
and they conjure up furniture.
I've taken cowboy boots and I've made
them into chairs on my ranch.
These homes,
they're fuel for him.
In these homes,
he finds inspiration.
My dad can dream up these lifestyles
and create an aesthetic
in his surroundings.
It's an emotional thing.
If I come out West
and I have a dream about what
these cabins are gonna look like,
well, if I'm gonna make the cabin,
I want it to have a squeaky door.
He feels like things get better
with age,
so he brings things from the past
into the future.
You could open a cupboard and find
an amazing stereo system inside.
But the old paint's still there.
He's timeless, but he's definitely
living in the now.
With Ralph Lauren, while the mythology
does indeed kind of meld
into the reality, it's because
the mythology comes from the reality.
Most of us will never be on
a thousand acre Colorado ranch,
but you can experience all of it
through Ralph Lauren.
Just looking at his life and his work,
they're one.
It's completely autobiographical.
He's completely sharing his interests
and his life and it's positive.
Does art imitate life ?
Or does life imitate art ?
With Ralph, there's no separation.
I'm that guy in the movie,
and my wife is the girl in the movie.
It starts out with a fantasy,
a dream and it ends up
as part of your life.
When you're out West,
you think about the trees and the
colors, the architecture and the plains.
They're inspiring to me.
When he's in Colorado,
and he's coming down from
a long year of hard work,
he gets out there and he just sits
down and looks at the mountains.
He has a quietness about him,
but it's almost because he's absorbing
everything and he's listening a lot.
You know my dad's like a real down
to earth family guy.
Alright, so here's the question.
And when we're together,
we're watching movies,
we're hanging out having
hamburgers and hot dogs.
This is fun.
We have a very tight-knit family
that stayed together
and played together.
My dad is loose and easy.
And he's funny.
He puts on a pair of sunglasses,
he gets in a car
and a character starts to emerge.
He'll be dressed according
to the car
and the color and the look
and the lifestyle.
We'd go for a long drive and then
we'd come home
and he would squeeze
the orange juice.
My mom would make the pancakes,
and then we'd put on Sinatra.
He'd start singing with a wooden spoon.
You know, for a few seconds, you think
"Old Blue Eyes" is in the room.
Whenever he puts on his white tuxedo
and dinner jacket,
he is Frank Sinatra, he's Cary Grant.
He gets out there
and he has these moves.
When we dance, he's spinning me
around like we're Fred and Ginger.
He really knows how to work it
and become the personality.
My name is Bond. James Bond !
He is very playful when
he's in a crowd that he is close to.
Ralph always, I think, identified
with Steve McQueen.
That was "The Wild Bunch"
part of Ralph.
But I think his real kind of soul hero
was always Cary Grant.
Ralph Lauren always wanted
to be Paul Newman.
And always wanted to be a cowboy.
He looks good as a cowboy.
I like for him.
I would be ridiculous, he's not.
Ralph gets to play Ralph Lauren.
And Ralph is exactly
what he wants to play.
He's good looking. He's a hero.
He can wear any of that stuff.
The evening clothes,
or the cowboy clothes
and he looks great.
He's a handsome man.
He photographs very well.
He's it. He's Ralph Lauren.
And he's the face of the brand.
Looking back at those pictures,
you know, you can see
the origins of this brand.
In some ways, the brand is iconic
for those great images
that are ingrained in people's heads.
He has a very strong DNA,
and this is like the gift,
the absolute gift for a brand.
The public figure who's in his own ads,
who lives his own lifestyle,
is also a very shy person.
And so it's important to make
a distinction between the mythology
that he has spent his entire life
creating for others
because he wished
to have that for himself
and the real person.
But there's not that much daylight
between them.
Designers, when we were all coming up,
just thought about collections, fashion.
Ralph was thinking about his brand.
No one else thought about that.
He just separated himself
and his company
from the fashion business, because
he was creating his own world.
I think the thing that had to be
so frustrating for him was to create
the lifestyle fantasy and then
walk into a department store
and see that it was in this terrible,
awfully lit environment,
styled on a mannequin
in the wrong way
and poof !
There went the dream and the fantasy
that he was trying to bring
into people's' lives.
I felt that there was a need to create
and do what I believed
was Ralph Lauren and Polo
in a much larger scale.
And I saw this building on 72nd street
that had this mansion-like feeling
and I said: "This is what I want."
The Mansion
was like a big Hollywood set.
He could create the world exactly
the way he wanted to.
So when people walked in,
it wasn't about buying,
it was about an experience.
Opening day he took us through
the store, with a grand staircase,
oriental carpet,
a huge portrait of an English gentleman
right on the landing.
He pointed to it and said:
"That's Grandpa Lifshitz."
I thought the store was terrific,
and I said: "How is it doing ?"
He said "I think it's doing fine".
He was the first designer
to open up retail stores.
He met with a lot of resistance
from department stores
because those people thought
he would be in competition.
He knew, and he told them
your business will grow
because of my freestanding stores.
And it was absolutely right.
Rhinelander changed the structure
of fashion to a tremendous degree.
Because up until Ralph Lauren opened
that Rhinelander store,
designer vertical retail
was not a thing.
And Ralph Lauren had the audacity,
and it was audacious,
to open this amazing store
on Madison Avenue
a few blocks from Bloomingdale's.
That was shocking.
So a lot of people would say,
in the press they said:
"Is Bloomingdale's gonna drop
Ralph Lauren ?"
Well, Bloomingdale's didn't drop
Ralph Lauren,
they increased their order,
they doubled it.
I don't think you can overstate
the impact that he had on the way
that designers retail their brand.
It's sort of performance art
in which you can participate.
It's a stage set,
in which everything is for sale.
The store not only had the clothes,
but saddles,
riding crops. I don't know what to do
with a riding crop or a saddle.
I want a pair of socks.
But it made me feel good.
This is my store. My kind of people
come here. Equestrians, right ?
I might like to look like that,
I might want to have that tweed,
I might want to have that riding boot.
I might want to have that horse.
I don't have a stable, but I'll go get
the bit, the riding boots,
and I'll look really snappy.
It's jaunty.
You always have something
in a Ralph Lauren look that pivots
what you feel about yourself,
which can give you confidence.
Even a Polo shirt is aspirational.
Rainbow colors. Who would not want
to aspire to that dream ?
I moved to America
wanting the Polo shirt.
And that, as an immigrant, for me
was what America was.
By buying a shirt, you can all
of a sudden be part of that club.
I needed a way to set myself apart.
What would be my magician's cloak ?
And it was the Polo shirt.
It said that I could travel
from the South Side of Chicago
to the beaches of Montauk.
The longing that he taps into
is about belonging.
It's about feeling that you have
not just attained some kind of personal
success, but social success,
cultural success.
And so that it isn't just him speaking
to the people who already have it.
It's speaking to people
who want to have it.
And that's his story too.
People know his story. They know that
this is not a guy who was born wealthy.
He's self-made.
But, because his narrative has been
so rooted in this very WASPy look,
there's been the sense that everyone
in that world
has also looked very WASPy.
And that hasn't really been the case.
Wool hat with the horsey.
This is actually
the retro reissue stuff.
It's a little cold outside.
Always Lo socks.
You're not going to catch me
without my Polo drawers on.
These guys brought this really rich,
interesting context to the brand
that wasn't there.
We took their style
and we made it our own.
The Lo Lifes were formed
in 1988 in Brooklyn.
Not too many people say Polo.
It's always referred to as 'Lo.
We were always into hip hop culture
and the fashion of graffiti,
break dancing, DJing.
And Polo became an obsession for us.
They look like mannequins
from the store,
how much stuff they had on.
And I knew how much this stuff cost.
These guys were wearing
400 dollar jackets
with 300 dollar boots.
Like everybody else, we wanted
the finer things in life.
But a lot of people felt the clothes
weren't made for us in the ghetto.
We were poor. You know ?
And I didn't have no other way
of really getting the clothes.
So I'm gonna take it.
You go on boosting missions
with a couple of guys
who can walk in the store
and come out with anything.
Down the leg, down the back,
in the shirt, in the sleeve.
When we would come back to our
neighborhoods wearing these clothes,
you look like somebody,
you felt like somebody.
It was a way of saying that you made it,
you were successful.
Because it was so regal,
it was so royal,
it was the top of the top.
When rap and hip hop embraced
Ralph Lauren,
they were essentially saying that
we're going to take this symbol
of what it means
to be a success in America,
we're going to turn it on its head
and we're going sort of wear it
on our own terms.
Ralph Lifshitz came from the Bronx.
He pursued the American dream.
It's what we did.
This was our way of seeing America
further than the last stop on the train.
I like this. I still like this.
Beyond the glamour of fashion,
there is the reality
of making a product,
selling it to the stores,
getting it delivered on time.
And then next year.
What are you gonna do next season ?
Doing one collection is painful.
It's painful. It's not easy.
And my days are distracted.
I'm not just sitting there
designing a dress.
I'm running from an ad meeting
to a board meeting
to another meeting.
When you're in this industry,
you do have to keep pushing forward.
You gotta get out there and you've
got to be better every season.
And he wants to get better with age.
So he works harder.
Building this company, I believe
that one person can't do it all.
From the financial end of it,
to the artistic end of it,
it's the team.
One person can't be the great artist
and the great financial genius
and the Wall Street genius.
I might be the only guy, probably.
What's in a brand name ?
For Ralph Lauren's Polo brand,
about 767 million dollars.
That's how much was raised
in yesterday's initial public offering
of stock
in Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation.
Going public just made him
more famous.
Ring that bell on the New York Stock
Exchange. It's a very exciting day.
And then your stock is traded and then
you have to deal with your shareholders
year after year after year.
And you're under a tremendous amount
more scrutiny than you were before.
He had a great concern that something
would go out of the business
when it became public.
And even though he clearly knew
he could make a lot of money,
the decision weighed on his mind
whether it was a good or bad decision.
Going public is very complicated
for any fashion company.
It places a undue burden on
a creative business,
which is always gonna show kind
of ebbs and flows
in terms of how people respond
to new products.
So that's, like, the star.
You may not totally be free
to express what you want.
This is what I want.
And yet, shareholders invest
in your business
because they believe in you
and they want to see growth.
I don't know all of you,
but I would like to know you.
But as you get bigger,
it's harder to control the sales,
it's hard to control the design,
and it's harder and harder
to control the company.
And you have to choose some
sophisticated people financially
to help you grow.
Sometimes it works
and sometimes it doesn't.
A lot of people have come and gone
quite quickly over there,
because they have tried
to introduce a new way of thinking.
And that's not possible for Ralph.
Ralph believes in what he has created,
he believes in the Ralph Lauren way
of doing business
And it's worked and he's not
getting off that train.
I decided to go public because
I wanted to have a bigger business.
The whole world was there
and I felt like I had something to say
that was international.
The first store that he opened in Paris
was the talk of the town.
And now there's
a Ralph Lauren store everywhere.
In Milan, in London.
There's stores everywhere.
He has created this idea
of American style,
and what that means
around the world.
I really love the fact
that he celebrates his country.
It's very relative
to what his vision of America is
and it's very exotic for us, maybe,
the French people.
The fact that Ralph Lauren's
international name is as important
as the French and the Italians
is very significant
for American fashion.
When you ask young designers
which designers they most admire
and who they might like to meet,
there's two names
that come back again and again,
it doesn't matter what corner
of the globe that you're in.
It's Karl Lagerfeld
and it's Ralph Lauren.
For me, he is the American designer
who represents America
and American fashion best
for the rest of the world.
When he went to Japan,
crowds were assembling
to take his picture.
He's seen as an ambassador
of American culture
and he reminds people
of what's great about our country.
That's their slice of America.
Having that t-shirt
is their ownership of United States.
I think if we have anything close
to a national designer,
it's Ralph Lauren.
When the Star-Spangled Banner was
tattering to shreds,
I reached out to Ralph
and next thing I knew
he was pledging 13 million dollars
to repair our Star-Spangled Banner.
It was literally the flag
that was flying
when our national anthem was written.
And it's because he got it.
He understands icons,
because he is one.
You couldn't grow up in America
in the 80's onwards
and not know the name
of Ralph Lauren.
He is the classic American mythological
entrepreneurial success story
in any industry.
The official uniform of the U.S.
Olympic team has been unveiled.
Ralph Lauren will throw out
tonight's ceremonial first pitch.
Being able to pitch at Yankee stadium
was unbelievable.
Thank you, Ralph
It is a key to our city.
Ralph Lauren will become the first
American designer to be knighted
by the Queen.
I think Ralph has won
every design award out there.
Thank you very, very much.
The lifetime achievement award that
Audrey Hepburn gave to Ralph
that was the high.
The high of the highs.
Tonight, we salute Ralph Lauren for his
contributions to American style,
design, and culture.
And to the way he has added
beauty, comfort
and dreams to our lives.
I think this looks very good.
Ralph knows what he's achieved,
but he still comes
from that place of hunger.
He still wants to create and excel.
He doesn't look at the past success
and say: "Okay, I'm done."
He's never satisfied, he's restless.
And there's always the next season.
There's always the next collection.
There is nothing to be rested on.
And the awards and the accolades
are not as important
as the thing you're working on now.
I don't like the belt.
I really don't like.
- You don't like the belt ?
- I don't like these sneakers as much.
Something is not sharp enough.
I don't know what it is.
He has been able to stay very,
very true to his aesthetic,
while progressing that aesthetic,
one of the hardest things to do,
if not the hardest thing to do
in fashion.
He remains within his own framework,
but Ralph is still in there,
pushing himself.
Always questioning, he's always
looking, he's always thinking.
And I think that he's been
concerned sometimes
that he's not been hot enough.
But he says very clearly:
"I don't want to be too hot,"
"and I don't want to be too cold."
"I just want to exist.
I want to be like Nike"
"or I want to be like Coca-Cola".
And I think he's achieved that.
Ralph Lauren has become
so established in the culture
that it could be the object of irony.
But that doesn't mean it was
created with ironic intent by him.
Ralph Lauren does not have
an ironic bone in his body.
He really believes all this stuff.
He really believes how beautiful
the world can be
if we would only let it be so.
The thing about Ralph Lauren's world
is that it's so benignly aspirational.
He's really built his entire empire
on this idea,
anyone can enter the fantasy,
American dream.
And I don't think the American dream
ever goes away.
But I do think that it evolves
and it shifts
and our understanding of it changes
over time.
I don't know that his understanding
of it is changing.
And I think it's a problem for a brand
that I think is so much more
than just any old fashion brand.
His real adherence
to these narratives of America
that are core to his brand
can get a little stale,
particularly at a time when I think
a lot of people who have not felt
included in a lot of these narratives
are suddenly finding a voice
and demanding that you kind of rewrite
how we have thought about
all these stories and you know,
this is not a brand that rewrites.
The question is
how do you move forward ?
How do you develop newness ?
And how do you stay Ralph Lauren
and not lose your identity ?
But I stayed true to myself.
And some of the criticism
was very painful.
It's like: "My God, maybe I'm not good.
Maybe I think I'm good but I'm not."
I've gone by my gut.
Not everything is genius.
And yes, I would love
everyone to love it.
But I'm a big boy,
and I've lived through critics
from day one.
And I think that if I listened
to the critics, I would've quit.
Let's put that on again.
This is my 50th year.
So think of this, 50 years
back-and-forth on the runway saying:
"Oh my God, what am I going
to do next year ?"
We're searching for what's been done
and what's not been done.
These are the pictures.
You're rolling the dice again,
and again, and again.
This collection is just a culmination
of everything
that you've always believed in.
This is not about every year.
This is just now,
and I wanted this collection to be
like it was my last.
People say: "Ralph, you don't worry
about your shows anymore."
Are you kidding ? I'm more nervous
today than I've ever been.
I was completely boggled by it.
My eyes were falling out of my head
because everywhere I turned,
there was some
extraordinary person.
Anne Hathaway, Oprah Winfrey,
Robert De Niro, Steven Spielberg.
Every American designer, practically.
And everyone was there just to be
happy for Ralph and be proud of Ralph.
I thought it was wonderful.
You're never sure
that you got it right.
You think you got it right,
you feel it in your gut.
But I'm nervous
up until the last moment.
Ralph Lauren's place
in fashion history is secure.
He represents something that is more
than just a bunch of clothes.
It was a very big tent
embrace of everybody.
You know, colors, ages, sizes.
Everyone can be a part of my world.
He took fantasies of what America
should be
and made entire worlds out of them
over half a century.
I think sometimes he can't quite
believe that it's happened.
Sometimes he's still that little boy,
not quite believing that
I am Ralph Lauren.
That hug. That to me said,
no matter who's in that room,
no matter who's shiny,
who's successful,
you always go back to someone
who really knows who you were,
and who you came from,
and where you came from.
At the very end of the show,
he always goes to his family.
And I think that's so touching.
Because you know
where the priority lies there.
You have to have a full life
to be able to create.
You can't create from emptiness.
And I think Ralph has a very full,
beautiful, loving life.
When I saw the children playing,
and people from all over
and the mixes of lives and worlds,
I mean, I was emotional.
It was everything I believed in
about life.
50 years.
I'm very excited about my work.
I feel vital and creative
and I'm looking forward to the future.
I care about what I do
and I love what I do.
You have to keep working.
I'm living the life I dreamt
about living.
And I enjoy creating
my own world.
But as you get older,
you don't need all the things
you thought you needed.
You need the good things.
Warmth and the smell
of the country mornings.
And the way the fences look,
the color of the barn.
And life is wonderful.
When I built my house in Bedford,
my mother said:
"What do you need this for ?"
I said: "Mom, I want this so I can
have that little house down the hill"
"with a little red barn."
That's for my soul.
Sometimes you have to fulfill
your dreams
to know what your real dream
is about.
The real dream is family, children,
having peace.