Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oprah and Ralph Today

I haven’t watched an episode of Oprah in a decade. I’m not really a television devotee and am generally not in televisionesque settings at 4pm EST. But I will be today because I am a devotee of Ralph. Yep…that Ralph…the one who is a sitting duck for pot-shots from almost any camp. The one who waltzed through Brooks Brothers, L.L. Bean and London forty-five years ago and then manifested  an unparalleled aspirational lifestyle retail strategy. His is an entrepreneurial journey for the record books and I’ll not want to miss his visit with Oprah.
But it’s Oprah. And don’t get me wrong, I love Oprah too. Hers is also an entrepreneurial journey for the record books. I met Oprah years ago, on the set of The Color Purple. It was one hundred degrees the day they filmed the scene above. And I watched them do this take at least ten times. But back to Ralph. I bet there won’t be too many tough questions as they gander about in Ralph’s world. Oprah probably won't press him too much and that’s ok. Ralph’s a very private guy who orchestrates and controls as much of the access and subsequent imaging and reportage about him and his brand as possible.
I once sat in his private office in the old Polo Ralph Lauren headquarters. He wasn't there and we’d all have gotten in trouble I bet, if he’d walked in. Don’t tell anybody.

Onward. With Ralph and Oprah at 4pm EST. ADG II

25 comments:

Flo said...

I think there's one more bag of m-wave popcorn in the cupboard, I'll be bringing that out at 3:55 pm, thankyouverymuch. You might have seen it already, Max, but there's a pretty good archived Charlie Rose hour taped with Ralph, lemmie go see if I can find it, ah.

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/8267

ADG said...

Flo...yep, that is a good interview and thanks for bringing it out of the archives.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Word.

Main Line Sportsman said...

We wanna hear how you came to be on the movie set....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking a stand on Ralph. I am hugely tired of WASP wannabes prancing around in loafers purchased on eBay and telling the world that they would never wear Ralph because he's a Jew, not a WASP. Absurd.

Please let us know how you ended up on the set of The Color Purple.

ADG said...

See the picture of the gas station scuffle scene? See that little boy witnessing the mess? That was me.

How's that?

Nelle Somerville said...

DVR'd and ready for my 5 o'clock mocktail.

Barbara said...

M-O-R all in one scene. Maximus, Oprah and Ralph. That's a finale. Did you act in
other movies, etc.
BarbaraG

ilovelimegreen said...

Oprah was a news reporter on WJZ in Baltimore in the late seventies. The summer she started, there was an campaign to the tune of "Do You Know What an Oprah Is?" and posed the question in man-on-the-street candid interviews. The answer I will never forget is "Harpo spelled backwards".

David V said...

And here in the Chicago area she's already been on. At 11 AM.
No. I didn't watch.

Gretchen said...

I am not a huge fan of RL, but I can understand his appeal. It's just overkill and a bit too contrived for me, but I sure don't get the hostility some folks have towards him. More power to him for being a bit reclusive.

Anonymous said...

We won't tell.

I adore Ralph because his clothes and furnishings have such amazing attention to detail. It's called quality.

Elizabeth

ADG said...

Just finished watching the show. It seems so much easier to criticize all things Lauren than to give them their due. I felt this way before, but now believe it more so...The Laurens are decent, principled people who've worked hard to leverage their gifts. Fancy that formula.

CeceliaMc said...

Frankly, I don't think the criticism of Ralph Lauren mostly stems from anti-semite WASPs.

It seems mostly to come from people who view Western European culture as the cauldron from which all evil brewed (colonialism, nationalism, genocide, etc), and see Lauren as a self-loathing capitalist whore who has helped to sell a romanticized image of this history.

It's bullshit, but there you have it.

As for the "contrived" charge against his offerings, that's not much of an indictment, really.

Some of the finest examples of timeless art, architecture, and literature, are contrived.

It would certainly be disconcerting to hear someone describe Bach or Degas (or the ballet depicted by the artist's ballerinas...) as being "organic".

Ralph's merchandise is desirable because it is from formulations that have stood up over time, whether it's jackets from the old west, or prints that evoke the English countryside.

That IS what "classic" means.

Naturally, all things of quality come with snob appeal, which gets the snobs sniffing over poseurs, and the egalitarians scoffing about such constructs, and the multi-culturalists doing what they do.

Who cares. It's simply beautiful stuff.

Personally, that's all the recommendation that I've ever needed.

Anonymous Texan said...

My wife,Praline recorded it. Great interview if Oprah would shut up. Concur with your assessment of solid ass labor. Enuff said.

Anonymous said...

Your comment about watching RL on Oprah
is right on. It gave me a good feeling to watch that family. I have driven by
all that fencing Oprah kept talking about. I'll wear my Polo with even more pride.

ADG said...

AnonTex...As good as Ohprie might be at interviewing, I'm thinkin' that she really didn't know what to say to him and therefore said a bunch of stuff. Re the solid ass labor...I've yet to find a way around that component of the success broth. And your wife's name ain't no Praline.

CeceliaMcMuffin....spot on.

Anonymous said...

Cecelia McMuffin--

I do not disagree with you, but I still believe that there are WASP wannabes who take a faux anti-Semitic stance because that's what they believe real WASPs do.

I used the word "wannabes" because I, like you, do not think that this hatred of Ralph Lauren extends from today's WASPs.

I didn't wish to be misunderstood.

Sincerely,
CLS

CeceliaMc said...

CLS, I'm not sure who "WASP wannabes are (they can have my membership card...), and I think there's probably more real antisemitism around than the faux kind.

However, you are indeed right about there being people out there who say all sorts of bullshit simply because they're following some faux narrative. RL has certainly been a target for them.

There's nothing we noble truth and beauty seekers can do but to not invite them to any parties.

Flo said...

I'm impressed that The God of Aspirational Lifestyle never bothered to go for elocution lessons to permanently erase the working class Bronx tones from his voice, it wouldn't have taken but a short lesson or two to clear that up. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

My family have had stingers sticking out of their tails for a long long time- almost as long as we have been broke. What I resent about RL is not his acumen and certainly not his ethnicity. What I resent is how much of what he sells is completely "borrowed"- that and the completely oxymoronic notion of luxury for the masses. I wear his stuff occasionally because now and then he does something better than anybody else. I also buy stuff at Wal Mart. I am not pleased by or proud of that, either.

His marketing exemplifies the whole confusion of symbol and substance. Having all of those signifiers is not what makes you rich. (Never mind that paying for them is what has made many people poorer, but) they are mere indicators of status, not bestowers. Those who can't figure this out are making RL rich.

American success stories always have a little bit of the arriviste in them. What is hilarious, though, is how well RL sells in the UK. Have another creamsicle, Nanook.

Wallace Algernon Sydney Post

Summer is a Verb said...

Saved my DVR'd version for this morning's tea time. It's the carrot dangling at the end of my Insanity Butt Police endorsed workout stick...XXOO

The Devoted Classicist said...

I met Ralph and Ricky Lauren as clients of my former employer Parish-Hadley in the mid-80s. The project did not reach fruition, but they were delightful to work with. Ever since, the Laurens have greeted me warmly on the few occasions our paths have crossed, a contrast to actions of many other fashion industry superstars.

Gretchen said...

Wallace Algernon Sydney Post said what I meant, but of course better. I feel the same way about Lilly Pulitzer (particularly the new, post-1980s company failure) and the LV empire. Bits and pieces here and there of all this stuff is fine, and some of it is quite nice. But walk into an RL store, or a Lilly shop, and it's just gag-inducing. The pretensions don't necessarily come from Ralph himself, but from the staff, although, like Martha Stewart, that control thing is what gets people on edge. I like the look, sort of. But don't much care for advertising for ANYONE. Logoland just bugs me.

Anonymous said...

I have never encountered any staff in a RL store who was pretentious. On the contrary, they have always been eager to help, whether I'm a size four or four times that. My weight fluctates with my thyroid.

I'm old WASP and what in the South is referred to as Old Blood No Money, but I would rather spend what money I do have on something that will last. And I have found Ralph Lauren products to be lasting. More power to the Laurens!

Elizabeth

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