Decades of Ralph Lauren’s pioneering approach blending fashion with home design are documented in a lush new volume
Words by ELIZABETH VARNELL
Ralph Lauren on horseback at the main gate to his Double RL Ranch in Colorado. PHOTO: Barbra Walz.
“I’ve always loved contradiction — the surprise of unlikely mixes. To me it represents a certain kind of confidence, a style that is unexpected and original,” writes Ralph Lauren in a landmark new volume that catalogs his pioneering approach to design, Ralph Lauren: A Way of Living (Rizzoli, $75). Lauren’s homes, deeply personal retreats that also serve as laboratories for his innovative ideas, form the backbone of the book. His running narration gives context to the residences where he developed the style themes that eventually played out in his wildly influential designs. Poring through the personal snapshots of rooms and landscapes (many taken by his wife, Ricky), Lauren’s impact on American design over the past four decades is hard to overstate. Beginning in Montauk with its seaside neutral palette, then traveling to Colorado where big skies and the San Juan mountains loom over his Double RL working cattle ranch and hand-hewn log lodge, to Bedford, with its stately ivy-covered stone house and tennis courts, Lauren unearths the roots of the eclectic world he developed for his namesake all-American brand, from ready-to-wear to furniture to restaurants. Khaki cutoffs and midcentury barstools overlooking the Atlantic become cowboy hats, riding chaps, and weathered pickups out West, or tapestries and tweed jackets in upstate New York. So many elements that have defined his collections for years — Oxford cloth bedding, the rustic patina on his Writer’s chair, tartan patterns — appear here in root form. Warm evenings spent barefoot on white-curtained verandas in Jamaica overlooking the Caribbean give way to the picture windows, white-walled minimalism, and loft-like dimensions of his Fifth Avenue apartment initially inspired by the Guggenheim museum. Also included is a striking visual timeline of yearly interior collections and launches from 1983 onward, including technicolor towels, lighting, and pottery, with insights from Hamish Bowles, André Leon Talley, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, and Annette de la Renta. rl.com.
Hither Hills Studio Collection. PHOTO: Francois Halard.
LEFT: The Laurens’ Montauk home. PHOTO: Pieter Estersohn. RIGHT: Villa America Collection. PHOTO: Francois Halard.
Journey’s End Collection. PHOTO: Mikkel Vang.
Feature image: Hither Hills Studio Collection. PHOTO: Francois Halard.
This story originally appeared in the Fashionable Living 2023 issue of C Magazine.
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