Happy Birthday, Ralph.

by Charles David

Ralph Lauren The genius of Ralph Lauren has always been his expansive imagination, which fills his inspirational passion and spirit for design.

I remember when the doors swung open to Ralph Lauren’s inaugural venture into Soho, the focus of a dynamic stronghold of the art scene downtown. The concept was to bring the customer closer to the designer’s working process of his vision. The design studio hybrid boutique melded the various lifestyles, drawing creative royalty from around the globe. The product looked fresh and inviting, it was luxury done to perfection and, everyone wanted to get their hands on some.

Soho was the place to be, it had an energy like no other neighborhood. The aroma of fresh perfume always filled the air, as events were bountiful. From captivating art exhibits, and nightly parties at Peter Beard and Peter Tunney’s gallery, to various social gatherings, there was always excitement to be had on any given night. Fashion, art, creativity, socialites, models all found a place to socialize.  Fridays heralded a jam session at 357 Magnum, a chic spot two doors down from Kenn’s Broom street bar, where live drummers added a third dimension to the DJ spinning vinyl. You might just dance into Lenny Kravitz or Lou Diamond Phillips, or even the peripatetic Mick Jagger with the fabulous legginess of Jerry Hall in tow, on a usual evening.  Conveniently across from our store was Cipriani Downtown, a favorite of our work crew, where we frequently kicked back after a long day’s work, sipping on delicious Bellinis, while munching on freshly, crisp baked bread sticks.  Sunday nights around the corner on Prince street, you found Boom Cafe, where a cool mix of Euro and locals all gathered, in the name of fun, the energy was sexy and not too overly sophisticated. Maximiliano, one of the owners who managed the weekends, drew a crowd of the cool and fascinating. There was always a D.J. ensconced in the dimness, rocking exotic mixes. It was the mid 90s, and we as a freshly assembled staff we enjoying the benefits of a booming economy, and basking in the radiance of the new arrival of a true Icon.

One of my fondest memories of those times was the occasion of Ralph Lauren’s 66th Birthday, when our then-store manager decided we should collectively get Ralph a present-as one could only imagine, what a tall challenge this posed. What do you get a man with such incredible taste, for his birthday-a radiant being, who has everything? Well after days of meandering around possibilities and fizzling ideas, our then-vintage buyer Bob Melet came to the rescue. He found an American flag, made entirely of vintage denim, dating back to the early 1900s. Since Ralph is clearly a fan of true denim and, passionate about the American flag-it was a perfect match for a life icon.

Gentleman that he is-we received the most genuine thank you note.

What I do is about living. It’s about living the best life you can and enjoying the fullness of the life around you-from what you wear, to the way you live, to the way you love.