When Lorraine met Ralph Lauren

In conversation with an icon

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Today, Ralph Lauren celebrates his 75th birthday. And since we couldn't be with him to celebrate in person, ELLE's Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy shares her time with a fashion icon instead...

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My first meeting with Ralph Lauren took place in his huge mahogany-lined New York office, on a cold winter’s day two years ago. I was swept into a room so chocka with Americana, from the Stars and Stripes to cowboy boots, that I half-expected a US President to wander in.

The next time we meet is at Claridge’s hotel in London in June this year. I’ve met many famous people at Claridge’s, and when someone of note is in the glamorous dining room, a spark of electricity flits from table to table. For Mr Lauren, the voltage definitely goes up a notch or two.

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The next time we talk, I’m interviewing him on the phone. Me in London, him in NYC, just before he departs for a family summer holiday in Colorado. Before the call, I ask Team ELLE what they would ask Ralph Lauren. Armed with their questions, I fire away…

LC: Ralph Lauren is often described as the brand that best represents the American Dream. I’m British. I don’t know what the American Dream means. Explain.

RL: I’m not sure why people call it the American Dream: it’s everybody’s dream to want a nice life, the freedom to do what they believe in and the ability to have a great career as well having a nice home and a nice family. Everyone wants to look good, be healthy, to be able to afford the things you see and say: ‘I’d love that.’

LC: What’s the secret of success, do you think?

RL: Stay focused and true to yourself and your beliefs. The most fun for me is that I didn’t get swayed off track. Many things have happened over the years: people don’t always think you are wonderful, times are not always great, but you have to hold on to your dream. Not everyone will like you or your work, not everyone is going to think you’re a genius. Well, your parents will…

LC: How do you stay so fit, healthy and clean-living?

RL: I have a trainer five days a week and I have stayed tuned-in with my kids. Plus, I have some clothes I like to wear, so I keep myself this way so I can wear them! People are so much more concerned with eating well and working out now – the world is getting smarter. I remember when
I used to jog when I came to London, people would stare at me in the street because it was so strange. Now everyone is out running, whatever country you’re in.

LC: Would you describe yourself as a feminist?

RL: I have a lot of women in my company, the President is a woman. I love working with women, but I don’t see ‘man’ or ‘woman’. I see talent and I see people.

LC: So would you use the word feminist to describe yourself?

RL: [Pauses thoughtfully] The word bothers me a bit. Certainly, I am tuned into the lives of women, the issues faced. But I don’t think about it that way, I think of people as people. Ultimately, the President of the United States will be a woman, so I see women as capable people and when I’m looking for an executive, I don’t say: ‘I want a woman.’ I say: ‘I want someone.’

LC: Some quick-fire questions to end. Host or guest?

RL: Guest, then I can leave when I want to. I’m not big on having dinner parties, I like to go home when I want!

LC: What’s in your Manhattan fridge right now?

RL: I don’t cook, so I just don’t look in the refrigerator.

LC: Fassbender, Cumberbatch, Hiddleston. Who’s hottest?

RL: [Tactful pause] I met Benedict Cumberbatch with Prince William. But I couldn’t comment on who is hottest! 

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