C California Style

A twisting wrought-iron staircase brings to mind Gloria Swanson’s grand residence in Sunset Boulevard. Courtesy of Ralph Lauren.
Western-inspired looks from the SEPTEMBER COLLECTION 2016. Courtesy of Ralph Lauren.
Palm trees sway near the boutique exterior.
The designer inside his cinematic shop.

Cinematic Vision

by C California Style

A choreographed staff and seamless series of boutiques lend Ralph Lauren’s newly renovated Rodeo Drive flagship the big-screen charm of his most brilliant creations.

He put Diane Keaton in ties and Robert Redford in dapper double-breasted suits. In the process, Ralph Lauren helped both actors conjure up two of the most memorable characters in American cinema: Annie Hall and Jay Gatsby. Lauren even made the oxford shirt (sans pants) Tom Cruise wore in Risky Business. Indeed, the fashion designer has credited his film work and the glamorous world of Hollywood with feeding his creative vision.

So it’s no surprise that Lauren’s newly reopened 22,000-square-foot Beverly Hills flagship evokes his deep California roots and his extensive cinematic oeuvre. Indeed, Lauren has said he dreams up a heroine for each collection whom he anoints as the star of the movie playing out in his mind, and she expresses Lauren’s story for each particular season. If Lauren’s clothes are his screenplays, then the new shop is a dramatic setting for each production.

The Rodeo Drive boutique is itself Gatsbyesque. Inside, roving waiters with trays and discrete drink menus hover, and it seems as if a cocktail party might begin at any moment. Bar snacks and refreshments including The Polo Bar’s famed old-fashioned are on offer and complimentary.

The flagship, housing Lauren’s collections for men, women and home, spans two floors, and nearly every room includes an antique fireplace and pieces from the designer’s home, lighting and furniture lines. It has what F. Scott Fitzgerald called a “hint of bedrooms upstairs, more beautiful and cool than other bedrooms,” and exploring the shop in its entirety becomes a quest. It’s no coincidence that Lauren’s foray into film, starting with the 1974 film adaption of The Great Gatsby, came on the tails of his initial retail presence on Rodeo Drive. He was the first American designer to open up a stand-alone store there in 1971, across the street from his current space.

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Written by Elizabeth Varnell.