Ralph Lauren opens new flagship in Milan – WWD
MILAN – Ralph Lauren has a new home in Milan – with a bar and restaurant that’s likely to become one of the city’s most popular tickets.
And, as always with the designer, home is where the heart is, and a feeling he has insisted on from the very beginning.
“My first store in New York [on Madison Avenue] was also very residential, we call it the Manor, and it changed the perception of what retail is. I saw clothing, taste and the home environment as a whole, ”Lauren told WWD in an exclusive interview with Zoom. “You enter my home and I welcome you to a place that [feels like home] yet it is elegant at the same time. It was important, [that this store reflect] the vision of how I felt for Milan.
The new flagship sits in a stately building on the cobbled pedestrian-only Via Spiga and amounts to an open invitation to Lauren’s world – and a significant development within the Next Great Chapter strategic setting of her namesake company.
Spanning five floors over nearly 16,000 square feet, the magnificent store includes the brand’s first hospitality experience in Italy – The Bar at Ralph Lauren – and perfectly reflects the designer’s aesthetic, both in terms of the range of products available and how it channels its distinctive style.
Describing the flagship, Lauren said he had “a kind of charming and delicate spirit, he brings you into the life that you want to be a part of and you don’t want him to go.”
Although he did not have the opportunity to make the trip on this occasion, Lauren visited Milan on several occasions and he admitted that the city had grown in him. “At first I didn’t like Milan because I didn’t know him. But, over the years, I’ve grown to love it, got to know people, and have friends in Milan.
In 2004, a Ralph Lauren flagship opened in nearby Via Montenapoleone, but it closed in 2015. Although it is a global attraction, the luxury street is not pedestrianized. and has a more touristy atmosphere. Reluctant to compare it with Via Spiga, which is currently experiencing some kind of renaissance, with several large-scale real estate projects in the works, Lauren stressed that it was “one of the most beautiful streets in the world”. emphasizing its “elegance, associated with people who love good taste and style and appreciate details”.
He called the new store “hotter [than the previous one], no glass and steel, and timeless. I believe in that spirit of timelessness, in something that lasts forever and I think people want that too. We want something new, something special, but we also want something warm. “
The flagship offers Ralph Lauren’s men’s and women’s lines as well as the RRL collection. The latter is on display on the ground floor, while men’s polo shirts and accessories are available on the first floor, and Purple Label and made-to-measure are on the second floor.
Clothing and accessories for women, the Polo and Collection lines are spread over the top two floors.
Interiors are made from traditional materials of rolled limestone and terracotta. Reclaimed wood floors are combined with oak and walnut woodwork and accented with bronze, aged brass and wrought iron.
Vintage objects, artwork, antique furniture, Persian rugs, Chinese porcelain vases, and custom woodwork dot the store, along with photographs of Lauren and Lauren’s beloved luxury and sports cars. iconic actresses such as Anna Magnani. All this contributes to the personal and intimate atmosphere, despite the size of the place. The brand’s home and gift collections are also available for sale.
“The world is not narrow, we travel all over the world, we see things, and I have always believed in the eclecticism of a house. When you are greeted in a home, you are greeted in someone’s taste, ”Lauren explained. “Paintings and porcelain are all elements that create a universal and different world.
“I believe home collecting is part of life,” he continued. A collection is “not just clothes, not just food, it’s not one without the other. We live our everyday life and if we have developed a sense of style in the house and the food, we got the job done. I like the mix of life.
A central staircase inspired by residential design connects the floors and several fireplaces add ambiance to the place.
Due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, several stages of the store had to be done remotely and, given Lauren’s attention to detail and hands-on approach, he admitted that “ it was an achievement ”.
But he congratulated his team.
“I’m not doing it alone, I have a team of great people who have been with the company for many years, who love what I love, and there is a familiarity and a sensitivity, they know what I think before I do ‘I think so.
While none of Lauren’s other stores around the world are in a palace, the other distinguishing feature of the new flagship is the addition of a bar and restaurant – the designer’s fourth after New York, Chicago and Paris.
Located on the ground floor, The Bar at Ralph Lauren, with its warm oak wood features and turn-of-the-century character, has an intimate feel and opens directly onto the rear garden for alfresco dining. The front walls and those overlooking the garden are a muted yellow contrasting with the green shutters. The garden is also another hidden gem typical of several multi-story residences in Milan, where privacy and sobriety are highly valued.
The bar will be open all day and its menu ranges from cinnamon rolls and a variety of breakfast muffins and cookies, to crab and avocado or filet mignon salads or the classic Polo Bar burger. with fries for lunch. There are also a number of dedicated cocktails for the aperitif.
“I enjoy Italian food, but I don’t think we can reproduce it with much kindness,” Lauren admitted. “We wanted to bring something to Milan that I found fun and exciting for young people around the world. I am here to share what I have to say, it could be interesting and exciting. I love the beauty of having a good dish for lunch or breakfast or whatever, I love that it complements the strong sensibility of who Ralph Lauren is. The voice is not typically American, Italian or French, it is the universe of Ralph Lauren.
He emphasized the quality of the food and recalled how, when he felt like a hamburger in Paris years ago and first thought of serving it in his restaurant in the French capital, he was given said “that will never work” – a bad forecast if it never has, as the queue for reservations can attest. The burger “is a classic, but it’s something that we put a lot of energy into, and the diversity of foods and people – that’s where the world is. The world is welcoming more people, more diversity, more the feeling of accepting a lot more styles and ideas, ”Lauren said. “It creates an eclectic and beautiful world. I don’t wanna be a thing, I like the mix of our voices.
A Ralph Lauren store should ‘make you want to go to the bar and up the stairs, [to do and see] things that I have always loved and that I would have liked to be able to do as a young boy, to be part of a world that I did not know very well and to be able to add something to it ”, he continued .
Lauren has showcased his menswear in Milan for several seasons in the past and he said his collections are very popular in the country, “especially in Milan, and I know Italian men have always loved Ralph Lauren”.
When asked if he is planning a special event or show in the near future in the city to mark the opening, Lauren replied that he was “not sure. I think we’ll end up doing a fashion show at some point, but we’re just thinking. “
Given the lingering uncertainties of the pandemic, he said he “can’t promise, but we are planning something and it should be beautiful and I hope people enjoy it.”
The flagship is part of Ralph Lauren Corp’s targeted expansion. across Europe, Asia and North America, which maps a mix of flagship products, small boutiques, wholesale partnerships and digital platforms, including a local digital flagship presence. In fact, the company has partnered with key Italian retailers including Yoox, LuisaViaRoma, Slamjam, and has a ralphlauren.it platform.
Recent physical store openings in Italy include a Ralph Lauren unit in the resort town of Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany and a Polo Ralph Lauren store in Florence. Previous openings in the region include locations in Rome, Turin, Bergamo, Bologna, Catania, Palermo and Padua.
Milan’s new flagship will also be accessible globally through an immersive shopping platform – the RL Virtual Experience, which includes a dedicated giveaway selection and private style appointments.
In line with the designer’s long-standing commitment to cancer treatment and prevention, the company will step up its support for its AIRC foundation, a local Pink Pony beneficiary, for cancer research in Italy. Through donation and annual fundraising initiatives, efforts will support breast cancer research.