He’s a Yankee-Doodle Dandy*

What if you were so rich and your company was making so much money, you could do anything you wanted?

Would you give millions to charity?

Would you create college scholarships for deserving inner city students?

Would you lower prices on your company’s products?

Would you give everyone raises?

Would you take over Yankee Stadium for a day so poor kids could go to a ballgame?

Or would you build a monument to yourself on the SW corner of Madison Avenue and 72 Street, like Ralph Lauren has done?

The renowned designer, about to turn 71, is just completing construction on a four-story limestone building (palace?) that will be home to another RL store. A magnificent building, designed in Beaux-Arts style, it complements one directly across the avenue, which is Lauren’s flagship store. The original, known as the Rhinelander Mansion (named after a NY heiress), was constructed in the late 1800s.

Magnificence aside, it is a bit unsettling to see this construction when stores are continually being vacated on Madison Avenue during these tough economic times.

But when you’re up to your eyeballs in Polo Ponies, I guess you’ve got to keep them somewhere.

P.S. Since FOF women made Ralph Lauren what he is today, the least he can do is give us a party in his new mansion. It might be able to hold all 51 million of us.

*P.P.S. Wikipedia says “a dandy (also known as a beau and gallant) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self. Historically, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic style of life despite coming from a middle-class background.”

3 Responses to “He’s a Yankee-Doodle Dandy*”

  1. Toby Wollin says:

    Linda – fashion is intensely personal. You find him creative; I don’t. A lot of people can’t stand Isaac Mizrahi – I think he’s a hoot and love his stuff, particularly when he dips back into what is probably a deep sense memory of his childhood in the 50s surrounded by his mother and aunts and the family dress business. I think Tommy Hilfiger is crazy stuff — but he is who he is – he is very genuine and I think very clever. Calvin Klein’s stuff has always bored me to tears. But again – that’s MY two cents. No one has to agree with me.

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  2. Toby Wollin says:

    Ralph Rueben Lifshitz’s life has been one long gaze through the toy store window of upper class British lifestyle…as filtered through Noel Coward, I think. I can’t think of anyone who has illustrated the maxim that ‘fashion is aspirational’ than the guy who would be Ralph Lauren. He actually has two design styles which he seems to revolve through on a regular basis: British Upper Crust As He Sees It and Luxury American Southwest. He also hews pretty strongly to the Duchess of Windsor’s philosophy that “You can’t be too rich or too thin,” as illustrated by the truly mind-boggling amount and extent of the ‘photoshopping’ that is done to the models in his ads. He has been masterful in terms of marketing his dream world to Americans – both male and female – we won’t discuss the number of people with that little polo player on a shirt in their dressers. Not that RL is some sort of villain (vain certainly and definitely not someone using his hard won wealth to better anyone else’s life) – his way down the American fashion road in terms of redefining himself by using a lifestyle and class that were not originally his own has been emulated by P. Diddy, Andre Benjamin and countless others. I just wish he had more design talent and creativity and was more a citizen of the world.

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    • Linda McCoy says:

      Toby,
      I guess I must be missing something here. I think he might be a citizen of the world. I love his creativity and classic design. Could all of those people wearing Polo be wrong? I found this article…………
      Charity biography
      Although the name Ralph Lauren brings to mind images of high society, it is not usually associated with magnanimity; however, it should be. The iconic fashion designer has been very generous and even founded the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation to support higher education and programs which provide healthcare in medically-underserved communities.

      In contrast to his present lifestyle, Ralph Lauren comes from a working-class background. Born in the Bronx in 1939, he was the youngest of four children. As a teenager, Lauren worked part-time for NYC department stores and became enamored with fashion design. After high school, he was hired as a designer. In 1967, Lauren started his famous company which is headquartered in the former Rhinelander Mansion in NYC.

      Lauren is as generous as he is successful. In 1998, his company donated $13 million to the Smithsonian Institution to preserve the original American flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner”. In 2001, in cooperation with Sloan-Kettering, he established the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care & Prevention in East Harlem, New York. Assisted by Polo Ralph Lauren designers, the interior of the Center features African-American and Latino art. Lauren also established Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC) in 1990, after his dear friend and fashion editor of the Washington Post, Nina Hyde, died of breast cancer.

      Read more: http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/1863-ralph-lauren#ixzz0zHaoLu3e

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