At home with Ralph Lauren Featured

The American designer Ralph Lauren has opened his largest European flagship store in the heart of St Germain des Prés, and we dropped in for a visit

A wonderful dream has come true for Ralph Lauren. He now occupies a location worthy of his multi-billion dollar empire on the Left Bank, an area where he would have liked to live. His new Parisian address is in St Germain, right alongside Sonia Rykiel, another great fashion brand. With boutiques already on Place de la Madeleine and Avenue Montaigne, the man who symbolises “American casual chic” has now treated himself to a 17th century private mansion on 173 Boulevard St Germain, where his largest European flagship store now proudly stands.

Over two years' work have produced astounding results. The store, which covers an area of 2,100 m² on five floors, displays Ralph Lauren’s main collections: the Black Label and Blue Label collections for women, and the Purple Label, Black Label, and Polo lines for men. It’s all about American style here, inspired by what would you see in western and detective movies: travels across the U.S., from Aspen’s peaks to the deserts of Texas, from West Coast sunsets to peaceful New England hills, through to New York’s bustling streets. The designer re-creates all these moods in his collections. You wander through halls and showrooms, passing alongside a huge framed American flag, and you find an overturned wooden boat hanging from the ceiling. It is a unique backdrop for the weekend casual style that is quintessentially Ralph Lauren. Stacks of polo shirts and sweaters, and countless styles of jeans, hats, and bags can be found all around. With Ralph Lauren, you can dress smartly and still be comfortable. Everything about the store has been carefully designed, so that shoppers and visitors can relax and dream. As regards décor, the American designer has utilised French craftsmanship and materials dear to Gallic taste, such as Versailles parquet flooring and French white oak panelling.

Don't miss a visit to the evening wear section: stroll amidst the mantelpieces, large gilded mirrors, and the wooden mannequins wearing the glittering sequined gowns that are so often worn by film stars on special occasions, and that for once are within our reach...

On the ground floor, after a quick look at accessories and costume jewellery, we reach “Ralph’s”, a restaurant which extends into and fills the entire courtyard. In just a few months, it has become the “place to be” in Paris. Here you will rub shoulders with actors, designers, and naturally, all of St Germain’s star-gazers as they casually hop from the outside restaurant to the café de Flore. As always, Ralph Lauren wants everything to be perfect and he sees to it personally. Even the waiters’ shirts have the same stripes as the cushions on the wrought iron chairs. The menu offers lobster salad, the famous “American meatloaf” and, above all, a selection of four kinds of hamburgers. “Ralph's Burger”, whose beef comes from the Black Angus cattle of Mr. Lauren’s family ranch, is an essential experience.

While fulfilling his dream to have a true flagship in the heart of Paris, Ralph Lauren did not expect that France would welcome him so warmly: the French President Nicolas Sarkozy took advantage of the designer’s brief visit to award him the “Chevalier de la légion d’honneur”. The American Dream lives on!

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