Ralph Lauren Celebrates 50 Years With An Epic Retrospective Runway Show In Central Park

It's a celebration!


Oprah. Hillary Clinton. Steven Spielberg. Kanye West. Blake Lively. Jessica Chastain. Pierce Brosnan. Calvin Klein. Diane von Furstenburg. Donna Karan. The list goes on and on.

Everyone was there — Hollywood, political, and fashion royalty — to pay homage to the king, Ralph Lauren. 

There was a lot about the brand's 50th anniversary extravaganza, set in one of New York City's most iconic locations — Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park—that felt like a royal jubilee. 

The scale of the celebration, which included an immersive brand installation where LED panels displayed iconic Ralph Lauren imagery and a seated dinner around Bethesda Fountain in addition to a runway show under Bethesda Terrace, was unprecedented. The brand called it "a multi-brand, multi-generational celebration of the World of Ralph Lauren and the next chapter of iconic American style."

And about that style: There was something of a relaxed confidence to the collection that felt different. Lauren's collections usually pick a theme and hit it hard (the American West, marinière, prairie, tweedy and tailored, etc.). But this time, the sweeping collection (Ralph Lauren's high-end collection was shown along with his commercial Polo line) were styled in a way that felt loosened up, mixing casual or sportswear pieces with more formalwear. 

Like a classic Ralph Lauren blanket coat, worn belted over an evening gown.

Or a rugby sweater and knit cap over a fringed and sequin skirt.

Or a parka over a tux.

The Polo collection, shown on kids and teens as well, was the real crowd pleaser.

One Polo-bedecked baby never even woke up for the entire length of the runway.

But when the man himself, Ralph Lauren, came to do his finale walk, the room went crazy. The show-goers sprang to their feet in an extended standing ovation. Guests clamored on top of benches to get a glimpse of the legend. 

And when it came time to sit down for dinner, it was none other than Oprah who gave the toast. To illustrate the power of Ralph Lauren's lifestyle empire, she shared a personal story: When she felt like she really made it, she didn't go out and buy a car or a house or a piece of jewellery — no, she bought Ralph Lauren bath sheets. As a child, she recalled a friend's house where the linen closet was stocked with luxuriously soft bath towels from Ralph Lauren. 

And so she vowed to have her own Ralph Lauren bath towel-filled linen closet one day. The point, of course, is that Lauren's empire is far reaching (beyond the clothes) and that the aspirational nature of his brand is deeply effecting.

This story first appeared on ELLE.com.

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