But for the designer himself, who launched his eponymous brand in 1967, legacy isn’t top of mind. What’s more important, he says, is the work.
“I don’t think of legacies,” Lauren, 83, told USA TODAY at a dinner following his brand’s first Southern California show at the lush Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino on Thursday night. “I really don’t know about what legacies are. I go in and work very hard to do excitement, to enjoy what I’m doing and to be great and not to be boring.”
Lauren adds that his company seeks to “stretch as far as” it can.
“That’s what I believe in,” he says. “And to have a hit feel like everyone loves it and there’s an excitement, that’s a great thrill.”
That excitement was palpable at the World of Ralph Lauren Fashion experience, where runway models flaunted the brand’s trademark Americana flair for a star-studded crowd that included Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Laura Dern, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, John Legend and more.
In addition to rugged cowboy hats and denim, the show also featured plenty of bright jackets and rainbow-colored pieces from the Ralph Lauren Spring 2023 collection – a range of style that the designer’s son David Lauren says reflects American culture today.
“The brand is always building on its 50-year history to look more modern but to stay rooted in classics,” he says. “We have every kind of reflection of what American culture is today and just how Americans can be ambassadors of global culture.”
As models walked the runway, versions of patriotic songs like John Stewart’s “Gold,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin” played. As the show went on, rugged cowboys gave way to preppy and elegant country-club goers before diving into an adorable children’s collection, modeled by toddlers walking hand-in-hand with adult models.
At one point, Neil Diamond’s “I Am…I Said” played, a song which David Lauren says speaks to Ralph Lauren’s own journey of bringing his show to California as a Bronx native.
“It’s all about being New York City born and bred and then coming out West and seeing where you belong,” he says. “This is another slice of America for Ralph Lauren that he’s able to capture in his dream, of the American dream, and I think he brings it to life beautifully.”
Lily Collins, Cole Sprouse reveal first memories of Ralph Lauren
Upon arrival, stars reminisced about their first interactions with the Ralph Lauren brand and what the company means to them.
“Emily in Paris” star Lily Collins remembers seeing Ralph Lauren print advertisements as a kid and ripping them out to put on inspiration boards.
Those inspiration boards seem to have paid off: Collins wore a Ralph Lauren wedding dress for her nuptials to Charlie McDowell last year.
“He is just an Americana icon,” Collins says of Lauren. “I’m half-British and half-American, so I feel like there’s an ownership of that American side of me that is represented within Ralph’s collections and who he and his family are.”
Cole Sprouse recalls his awestruck reaction to a Double RL store he came across while a student in Brooklyn, New York. Sprouse, who starred in “Riverdale,” took classes at New York University from 2011 to 2015.
“I walked past a Double RL store and was like, ‘Oh my God, I really want to go in here. I really want to check it out,’” he says. “And then I was like, ‘This is incredibly expensive. I gotta get out of here.'”
Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher schmooze with Ralph Lauren at after-show dinner
After the show, attendees were treated to an outdoor, candlelit dinner on the Huntington grounds.
Celebrities, influencers and fashion professionals mixed and mingled, while eating one of three entrée options: a Polo Bar burger, a veggie burger or a grilled branzino. The cocktail menu featured an RL Royale, made with Grey Goose vodka; an old fashioned; a ridgway margarita; and a nonalcoholic garden spritz, made with ginger, mint, cucumber, lime and sparkling water.
Waiters lined up to serve and remove each dish in synchronicity, adding a flair of elegance to the whole affair.
Legend sat across from Kunis and Kutcher, and the trio made lively conversation throughout the night. Chastain spoke quietly to her husband Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo at the end of a table, and Sylvester Stallone sat beside his wife, Jennifer Flavin, and daughters Sistine and Sophia Stallone.
The man of the hour, however, was Ralph Lauren. Kaling politely waited for the designer to wrap up a conversation before eagerly introducing herself. Later, when Legend stepped away from his seat, Lauren filled it, striking up a conversation with Kunis, Kutcher and Lauren Bush, who sat to his right.
When asked whether he’d offer advice to his younger self, Lauren gives a contented smile.
“No, I like him,” he says. “He was a good guy. Handsome also.”