Now, if you know me, or if you've read this blog for very long - you know that Ralph Lauren is indeed, one of my design icons. Maybe THE design icon. His traditional aesthetic and more-is-more cluttered look is what I've used to shape my idea of the "perfect" room. Ralph Lauren of course, is no stranger to the cover of Architectural Digest.
The man is truly a legend. He has reshaped the way that the world views "American" style, both in fashion and interiors. His many homes have inspired designers across the country, and his high-end home division is seen in magazine featured, covetable rooms created by interior designers old and new, and shared across the bloggersphere by just about all of us.
In Architectural Digests September 2013 issue, they captivate the reader with this image of Ralph's office in the Manhattan headquarters on Madison Avenue:
Just amazing to see how he surrounds himself with so much! The same desk was captured by New York Photographer Pieter Estersohn in 2005.
Nearly the same exact display, atop his popular Highbridge Desk. I love the layered framed prints and photos on the floor, the large ranch themed cowboy mural ... totally the All-American Ralph Lauren we've come to know and love. This set up, in the Manhattan Flagship store is even more unique given the stores facade:
But it's not the RL you'll find at Dillards or Macy's. No, here you'll be browsing $20,000 Ricky bags and $3,000 tweed riding blazers.
Of course, although a clothing store, it's filled with the RL collection of furniture, plus vintage and antique items thrown in to create the Ralph Lauren experience. Even full rooms of the most feminine of the furniture collections are thrown in for good measure:
Like these ... from the RL Heiress Collection. I remember when this collection first showed up on the RLHome website. I fell in love with a few of the photos ...
Described as being a beautiful translation of Bohemian romance, this series of rooms, although very "pretty" is layered to perfection, and I find it insanely inspiring.
The next image in the Architectural Digest issue is one of Ralph and Ricky's Bedford Mansion, described by Ralph as part Hunting Lodge part Stately Manor.
When AD featured the house in 2004, cover above - way up there! - the living library looked very much the same:
In fact, with very little exception, the room is exactly the same. The point of decorating your home with things you love ... there's no need to change as trends fade in and out of favor. The rest of the house is equally as beautiful:
Of course, the Lauren's don't simply have one house. Which I suppose makes it easier not to change the decor even seasonally. They just pick up and shuffle to another house ... one of five, each more beautiful than the next. Luckily though, in this September issue of AD, we get to see a few never-before-seen angles of the rooms at Bedford, like this one of the living room:
And some interior shots of the beautiful pool house ...
Swoon! I could LIVE in this bathroom. Seriously. Ralph's Bedford Estate is clearly large ... perhaps the largest of the all the Lauren's real estate holdings.
And my most favorite. Ralph has never claimed to be an interior designer. Rather that he knows how enough to visualize how you should live in any particular environment. He decorates and designs for himself, and if 30 years of success and icon status doesn't spell out very clearly just how that vision has shaped the American idea of "classic" interior design ... I don't know what would.
Of course, if anyone were going to do an expose on Ralph, Ricky, and their homes - they would have to include Double RL Ranch in Colorado. Built using 100-year-old, hand hewn logs from Montana, the ranch pairs Navajo with Vintage Americana ... a far cry from Bedfords Manor meets Hunting Lodge.
Of course, AD did a cover story on the Ranch in 2002 ... so there are some older photos of the interiors still floating around ...
The whole ranch, including the exterior terraces and porches are appointed with late 19th century Indian rugs, woven twig chairs, antique and vintage bedding and linens, aged saddle leather, and bespoke pieces. There's even an airstream trailer on the property for guests:
Can't you just see Matthew McConaughey out there on that planked deck playing the bongo drums?
It's this sort of whimsy, care free design, that makes the indefatigable Ralph absolutely beyond compare. And while AD leaves their September article on Ralph at Double RL, I suppose a good place to leave the reader, I have to show you more!
Ralph and Ricky have a Montauk getaway, that at one point, was owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The 5.5 acre estate, complete with a pool, tennis court, and the bulk of Ralph's impressive car collection.
When Elle Decor decided to showcase some Celebrity estates in 2005, they chose the pool of Ralph and Ricky's Montauk retreat as the cover.
Again, you find that Ralph has mixed styles. If Bedford is Hunting Lodge meets Manor, and Colorado is Navajo meets Americana, then Montauk is Beach meets Industrial Modern. With rattan and Barcelona daybeds, 50's era architects chairs and the classic beach directors chair ... it's a lesson in pairing ... and another example of Ralph's ability to make even the most disparate of items come together seamlessly.
The Lauren's also have a Manhattan apartment. Very appropriate for a Billion Dollar couple ...
Ralph and Ricky very early on after buying their Manhattan Duplex, commissioned their friend, the late Angelo Donghia to design the house. Here's an early photo of the room above designed by Donghia:
Apart from the very fun art, a Starwars Stormchaser, a painting of Batman ... this space is far too sparse for me. It feels less like Ralph Lauren than any of their other homes ... but I suppose at some point, you have to escape the clutter and just exist with the clean lines. I half expected the Manhattan duplex to be decorated in the same vein as his Brock Street collection:
Or maybe even his slightly more Donald Trump'ish' collection One Fifth:
But, I suppose even though it isn't my favorite. If I had to name the pairing, the Manhattan Fifth Avenue Duplex would be Eccentricity meets Austere. And finally, because I can't find interior photos of the private plane ...
We'll finish up the RL estate tour, started by Architectural Digest with the Jamaican beach house, located in the Round Hill resort of Montego Bay:
Naturally, when the house down the hill went on the market in 1996, Ralph and Ricky jumped at the chance of owning it ... and renovated it, calling it White Orchid.
Round Hill, the oldest of the Lauren's homes is certainly East Indies meets Paradise Chic, while White Orchid is much more Le Grand Hotel ...
A blue and white masterpiece ... and probably my favorite of the RL Home collections, apart from the very recent Brookfield Collection:
A collection of all my favorites, gilt, tapestry, seagrass, houndstooth and suiting fabrics ... it's certainly living up to the romantic description: A fresh translation of a time honored thoroughbred estate with an exciting mix of classic motifs and elegantly undone bohemian elements. It sort of reminds me of a much more polished version of the very old St. Germaine collection ...
Ah, rediscovering these photos has me rethinking my own interiors. Oh Ralph! And just because it's an easy transition, I have to show you photos of the Ralph Lauren store located on Boulevard St. Germain, in the Latin quarter of Paris.
I mean, if the Eiffel Tower wasn't enough of an attraction ... this sure has me longing for a Parisian lunch, American style.
Thanks to AD for getting me going on this post, and for all of you for sticking with it to the end! I told you, I love Ralph Lauren, so you knew it wasn't gonna be a short one ... right? I so appreciate your comments!