Radar: Ralph Lauren unveils women’s flagship

Although Ralph Lauren has become synonymous with classic, American, tailored clothing, its new women's flagship on 888 Madison Ave., which opened today, reveals a more glamorous side of Ralph Lauren, featuring ornate Beaux Arts architecture.

Ralph Lauren traded the classic brick-and-mortar façade for a black-and-white, limestone Parisian building. Sitting across the street from the famed Rhinelander Mansion – a building the “Silver Fox” refurbished for his Polo flagship – the new women’s location appears to be so much more than a retail store. Rather, it is a museum dedicated to more than 40 years of success in the fashion industry.

French Renaissance architecture may not reflect Lauren’s classic style, which has become the apparel of choice at country clubs, The Hamptons and polo classics; however, it does reflect the span of his influence. His brand is available in more than 20 countries, from Korea to Qatar.

“This is really a statement about what I have to say today and how the company has grown,” the designer told WWD on Tuesday. “I started with the tie, and, little by little, I added product. Then I launched womenswear.”

His roots have always been in the Big Apple. Starting out of a small office in the Empire State Building, Lauren now owns two of the most beautiful buildings on Madison Avenue.

His website reads: “These two historic buildings are the ultimate expression of luxury and service.”

While creating such a store in the midst of a recession might seem glib to some, the brand is very attuned to what shoppers want right now. As mentioned above, when shopping for luxury products, Lauren said, shoppers want to feel at ease and believe that they’re getting something that is worth every penny.

“What this does is prove that we (at Ralph Lauren) believe in the world, we believe in America, and we believe that people want good things,” he said to WWD. “Customers want quality, service and attention. They want an environment they feel comfortable in.”

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