Ralph Lauren Reflects on the Meaning of Home

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When it comes to interior design, Ralph Lauren would be hard-pressed to pinpoint any one passion. “I have never followed architectural rules or chosen one decorative theme,” he admits. “I love contemporary. I love American Country, the Southwest, Bauhaus.” Over the course of his legendary career, that polyglot sensibility has informed every aspect of his work and life, from his runway shows to his own residences and collections. “I don’t care if a thing is English, French, antique, or modern. It’s whatever appeals to my eye.” Put simply, he adds, “I’m a romantic.”

Those words, among many other intimate musings, resonate powerfully in the style icon’s new book, Ralph Lauren: A Way of Living (Rizzoli). Published on the 40th anniversary of Ralph Lauren Home, the volume both surveys the designer’s own abodes and chronicles the evolution of his trailblazing lifestyle brand—launched in 1983 as a furnishings extension to his fashion empire. “Our homes are a canvas for living,” he writes. “Whether we live in the city, the country, on a farm, at the beach, in a penthouse or cabin, each is home and tells our story.”

His own story has unfolded at five extraordinary properties, many of which design lovers will recognize from the pages of Architectural Digest. In Manhattan, Lauren and his wife, Ricky, retreat to the sculptural volumes of a prewar Fifth Avenue apartment, boldly renovated in the style of a downtown loft (AD, July/August 1980). North of the city, they have transformed a historic Bedford estate into a timeless showcase for beloved antiques (AD, November 2004 and September 2013). Meanwhile, the couple’s Colorado ranch, christened Double RL after their initials, is their love letter to the American West, with timber lodges and barns set on 17,000 pristine acres (AD, November 2002 and September 2013). There are also the ultraglamorous High Rock and White Orchid houses in Jamaica, both set on the grounds of the fabled Round Hill resort (AD, November 2007). And at the tip of Long Island, the family’s shipshape Montauk getaway nods to Japan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the sea.

Diverse though those abodes may be, common themes emerge in Lauren’s first-person accounts, offering a rich portrait both of the man and the brand. Immediately apparent is his deep love of nature, from Jamaica’s azure waves to Montauk’s fragrant pines to Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. (“I love land for itself—the look, the beauty of undisturbed land,” he writes of Double RL Ranch.) Equally clear is his passion for collecting, be it art, blankets, or books. Craftsmanship, integrity, heritage, pride of place—these concepts braid together in his residences just as they do in past Ralph Lauren Home campaigns, archival photographs of which have been grouped thematically for the book.

As much as the monograph is about design, it is also about domestic life, offering glimpses at Lauren’s everyday rituals and routines. Those include games of pool, lighting candles in the evening, and watching the sun set, whether from the weathered chaise longues that dot his Montauk grounds or the veranda at High Rock. Movies, too, are a regular form of nighttime entertainment for the cinephile couple. Whereas in Bedford, he and Ricky regularly retreat to their mahogany-paneled sitting room to watch 1930s classics, at Double RL Ranch, the extended family settles into the many leather armchairs of the Saloon theater.

“What I do is about living,” Lauren says. “It’s about living the best life you can and enjoying the fullness of the life around you—from what you wear, to the way you live, to the way you love.” And nobody does it like him. ralphlauren.com/home

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