Ralph Lauren: The American Dream

love-opera-victoria-baker“I don’t design clothes, I design dreams” said Ralph Lauren about his work. I suppose that’s exactly why I’m so in love with everything he does.

His clothes tell a story. Have you ever seen a movie or a painting you just wanted to dive into? Wearing anything by Ralph Lauren allows you to do just that.

Looking for an elegant cowboy twist? Some retro glamour? A hint of a safari? Ralph Lauren allows you to become any one of those characters without ever feeling staged or costume-ish. His flagship store on Greenwich Avenue is my weekly shopping treat, even if it’s only a window shopping treat at times.

In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorites from his Spring Collection with you guys.

He has become a paragon of style and timeless elegance, but who is Ralph Lauren?

Born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx to a working class family far from the gentrified, tweed clad, upper class world he has created in his designs his determined nature manifested itself early on. His class yearbook stated that his ambition was to become a millionaire. As a boy he would spend whole afternoons at movie theatres dreaming of a better life.

When he was 26 he began designing wide, European-style neckties like the ones he had seen Douglas Fairbanks Jr. wearing in the movies. This necktie idea was rejected as being not commercially viable only to be picked up by Neiman Marcus later on. Things progressed, he opened his own store, he began women’s suits and the rest is history.

What I love about his clothes is that pieces I have from 5 years ago and beyond are still elegant and relevant today. His style is timeless. Coco Chanel said “Fashion changes, style remains” and nobody understands this better than Ralph.

Watching the windows change in the Ralph Lauren store on Greenwich Avenue every season is a treat for me. On more than one occasion, as I have stared longingly at the glamorous window displays, I’ve exclaimed “I just want to live in that world!”

Who says daydreaming isn’t productive? The Ralph Lauren brand is a tangible manifestation of a young boy’s fantasy of life beyond the confines of his working-class neighborhood.

In this fantasy there are no limits to what’s possible, a poor boy from the Bronx can join ranks with the British gentry and the nay saying voices of his small-minded friends can’t stop him from being at the helm of a 6.5 billion dollar empire. You see, at its core, the Ralph Lauren brand is not about fashion at all. It’s the story of a man who dreamed his American dream out loud.

Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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