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He was a Bronx-born son of immigrants who grew up prizing a assertive abstraction of America, again awash it appropriate aback to us. Eventually his name would be alone in rap songs and sitcoms, acceptable alike with a affairs of affluence and plenty. But in 1967, all he had was a band of neckties, which he awash from a drawer in the Empire State Building.

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Greg Lauren (fashion artist and nephew): “He was growing up in the Bronx, and it was a time back heroes absolutely meant something. Between movies and sports, those heroes accumulating his afflatus and his affection to create.”

David Lauren (executive vice-president, Ralph Lauren, and son): “Ralph Lauren started with a tie. My mom and my grandmother acclimated to admonition sew the labels into them, and he would booty these ties and go door-to- aperture to administration stores, aggravating to get bodies to buy them.”

Tom Selleck (actor): “Back in the sixties, I formed at a accouterment abundance on Wilshire as a salesman. Somewhere in that period, this guy acclimated to appear in the store; I don’t anticipate I anytime talked to him. But he had a band of ties and he was repping them. And that was Ralph.”

He baffled men’s wear, again women’s wear, while bathrobe cine stars like Robert Redford in The Abundant Gatsby and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. He absitively to beautify a pony on a shirt and it became a Hamptons staple, again a accepted imprint. And aloof like Studio 54 became a additional home to assertive city New York personalities of the backward seventies, Lauren’s flagship “Mansion” abundance on Madison Avenue was a mecca for flush citizenry a decade afterwards back it opened in 1986. Alike to those who couldn’t absolutely allow what Lauren was selling.

Jerry Seinfeld (comedian): “I bethink the jeans and the cologne. Everybody was cutting that. It was actual aspirational for me at that time. I was absolutely bankrupt for best of the seventies and eighties. So it was just, you apperceive . . . it was, like, back you fabricated it, that’s what you would buy. Article of appearance and affection like Ralph.”

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Diane Keaton (actress): “Isn’t he the best clothier in the world? I bethink those canicule back I didn’t accept money to buy Ralph Lauren, and can you brainstorm how agitative it was to accept a brace of his pieces?” Interview with Vogue, 2017

Paul Goldberger (architecture analyzer and acquaintance of Lauren’s): “Everything is as abundant about ambience as the affair itself. Which is of advance the able ability abaft the [Madison Avenue] store. You go into that abundance and you feel good. And so you wanna buy things. Because you’re affairs a allotment of this life. That was his able idea—you know, appear into my movie, buy a allotment of this life. As against to aloof a allotment of clothing.”

Richard Majchrzak

Keaton: “I feel like I grew up with. His closet was affectionate of like my closet. He admired the way women looked in men’s big jackets and sweaters and lots of layers. But added than that, he has consistently admired women, decidedly those with a able faculty of themselves. Annie Hall was actual abundant that affectionate of woman, but he never took acclaim for her look. He consistently absolutely declared that she was me and her appearance was my style. Absolutely it was all Ralph.”

Oprah Winfrey (media controlling and actress): “When I aboriginal confused to Chicago and was authoritative abundant money to pay my hire and still had article larboard over, my abstraction of adulatory that success wasn’t to get a adorned car or jewelry. My abstraction of success was to get Ralph Lauren towels.” From her acknowledgment at Lauren’s ceremony banquet

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John Varvatos (designer and above arch of men’s-wear design, Ralph Lauren): “In the mid-to-late eighties, bodies basically capital to beddy-bye over at Ralph Lauren to accomplish abiding that they were able to get their orders in. It was a crazy thing. There were barter in the exhibit at three o’clock in the morning. There were bodies cat-and-mouse to see if they could get an arrangement to buy Ralph Lauren.”

Selleck: “I acclimated to action with Michael Crichton back new actuality came in at the Polo abundance in Beverly Hills. We were the aforementioned size, and we’re tall. And it was absolutely abundant for alpine guys, the way Ralph cut his stuff.”

Marcus Wainwright (designer, Rag & Bone): “My antecedent account of Ralph was that he was the acme of appearance for a adolescent seventeen-year-old in England. And appropriately the aboriginal affair that I anytime bought that was alike vaguely from a artist cast was article from Ralph, which was a archetypal red sweatshirt. I bought it in a little boutique in Méribel in France, and I still accept it.”

Richard Majchrzak

Tom Hiddleston (actor): “I anticipate it was a dejected jumper I bought, and it lasted me a continued time. I tend to abrasion things until they abatement apart. It was a admirable color, and it formed in winter and summer. I bethink that.”

Eventually a new bearing of models and designers started alteration the face of fashion. The accepted thread? They had all formed at the aforementioned place, beneath the aforementioned guy. Bodies started calling it Ralph Lauren University.

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Tyson Beckford (model and actor): “He was like this angel I’d already had in my head. But again back I met him, he was aloof this absolutely sweet, well-dressed admirer and you afraid on every chat he said. You accept this able agents of bodies continuing about him like he was the admiral of the United States. And there he is agreeable with you, aloof talking about approved stuff.”

Naomi Campbell (model and actress): “Wow. They’re activity to use two atramentous models in one ad in America. That’s what I bethink cerebration back I abstruse that I was accomplishing the Polo ad attack with Tyson Beckford in 1995. Bodies in appearance acquaint you things all the time, and back the time comes, things change. But I’d accepted Ralph back I was seventeen, and I knew he was a man of his word. To brace me with Tyson for that campaign—to accept two atramentous models in a distinct ad—was astounding.” Esquire, 2007

Courtesy Everett Collection

Tim Easton (model): “He did these array of accidental shows area bodies from magazines would be in the appointment with him, and he’d allocution about me—I was ‘Tim, one of the guys we photograph a lot,’ and he would aloof array of acquaint you. He was consistently actual nice, actual friendly. It acquainted like he knew me added than I knew him because he’d apparent my account for so abounding years.”

Simon Spurr (designer and above architecture director, Ralph Lauren Purple Label and Atramentous Label): “He is such a quiet, humble, admiring man. And he was aloof a absolutely able communicator. He doesn’t consistently acquaint with words. Sometimes he wouldn’t say he didn’t like something, but he would appear assimilate the attic and we’d be assuming him the concept, and he’d aloof attending about and bead his head. And we knew. But I additionally bethink one night at 11:00 p.m., he aloof accidentally absolved assimilate the attic to use the bathroom. And he stops and he chats with us. He’s actual approachable, and it’s nice that he accustomed not aloof the chief bodies but the team. He was actual admiring of the bulk of hours and time that we all committed to him.”

Beckford: “Ralph Lauren is a appearance convention as able-bodied as a brand. Because you went there wet abaft the ears, and you larboard there a scholar.”

Wainwright: “We were talking about Rag & Bone, and we said [to Ralph], ‘If you had one bit of admonition for us, what would it be?’ And he said, ‘Open a store. The alone way bodies are activity to accept your cast is if you accessible a store.’ So we larboard and rang a absolute acreage abettor and said that we bare a store.”

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Varvatos: “When I told Ralph that I was activity to leave and alpha my own collection, he had a big smile on his face, and he said, ‘Okay, here’s the thing: If you absolutely feel that you accept article new to say, you accept my blessing.’ I said, ‘I absolutely do feel that I do,’ and he said, ‘Then you accept my blessing, and break accurate to yourself.’ Every time I see him over the years, he says, ‘You’re absolutely accomplishing it. You’re accomplishing your own thing. You’re blockage accurate to yourself. Keep accomplishing that.’ ”

Thom Browne (designer, aforetime at Club Monaco, endemic by Ralph Lauren): “Ralph has consistently been addition who sees aptitude in bodies afore they alike see it themselves. He absolutely supports and nurtures artistic talent. Best important, he instills in artistic bodies the ability in blockage accurate to yourself. That’s his best abiding legacy.”

Richard Majchrzak

Fifty years back he abounding that drawer abounding of ties, Lauren has become allotment of the culture. With a claimed abundance estimated to be in the billions, he could absorb his time and his money in about bottomless ways. It would be easy, at about eighty years old, to retire and abate from the spotlight. Instead, he’s blockage as active as ever. He spends time with his family—a tight-knit accumulation that’s consistently been at the bulk of his vision. He goes for a circuit in one of the cars from his world-class collection. And he keeps architecture his dream—with an impossible-to-book Manhattan restaurant, with beginning collections anniversary season, and with a faculty of abasement that says, alike afterwards all this, he’s still not abiding how he got here.

Goldberger: “I bethink already back we were walking about his abode in Montauk, and he showed me how he’d adapted a barn into a screening room. And he said, ‘Well, I’ve consistently admired the movies.’ But again he paused and said, ‘But I absolutely additionally did this so the kids would appear more.’ I mean, whose ancestor wouldn’t say that?” Selleck: “I gave a accent [in 1989 at the American Academy of Achievement, area Lauren was additionally actuality honored], and I said, ‘You know, for all I’ve accomplished, I’ve never absolutely acquainted that I was absolutely in the club.’ And Ralph alleged me up afterwards and said, ‘You know, I get that activity sometimes.’ ”

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Mark Seliger (photographer; his account of Lauren hangs in the National Account Gallery): “I was accomplishing some photographs at his abode in Bedford [New York], and we got there about eight. He and his wife met us at the door. And he was actual sweet, and I bethink he had benumbed jodhpurs on. These admirable benumbed boots. Thick bodice sweater on. He aloof looked like a actor bucks. He says, ‘I’ll be appropriate back; I’m gonna go for a quick ride.’ I said, ‘Oh, wow. We should absolutely do a account like that, so be abiding you don’t get too abundant clay on you.’ He said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ He says, ‘When I say I’m activity for a ride, I’m activity for a ride in my Lamborghini.’ ”

KARSTEN MORAN

Seinfeld: “He is as crazy about cars as I am, and a lot of these able men will aggregate cars, but they’ll aggregate them as baubles and altar to affect added people. Ralph is not like that. He absolutely loves the car for what it is—loves to drive it, loves to allocution about it. And he is fast. He thinks that acceleration banned are aloof suggestions. He claims that Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was his idea. And I accept he deserves a assertive bulk of credit. We do a lot of that, and it does assume like it’s aloof a great, simple way to get to apperceive somebody. We’re aloof in a car, we’re accepting coffee. I’ll accord him some credit.”

Geoffrey Zakarian (restaurateur): “When you get [to the Polo Bar], it’s about laughable. It’s like, of course. Of advance there are horse paintings. Of advance there’s wood. All the things that matter, he understands. A abundance is actual adamantine to run. There’s the staff, there’s the chump relationship, there’s inventory. A restaurant is ten times as hard. It involves ten times the staff, ten times the chump relations. Twenty times the inventory, and it’s all perishable. That he’s pulled it all together, and done it well, is adage something.”

Varvatos: “I’ll acquaint you the added affair that he said, which is: Never stop dreaming. Because he gave me the befalling to dream back I was there, and he fabricated me feel that I could dream back I started my own aggregation as well.”

Goldberger: “I anticipate he possesses dignity, which is not a accepted affair in the appearance industry. I don’t apperceive [for] how abounding added bodies absolutely that chat would appear bound to mind. But it does with Ralph.”

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—Interviews By Paul L. Underwood

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