lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgFashion designers are a strange bunch. These arbiters of style often appear in some head-scratching ensembles that, if they were mere mortals, would land them squarely in “What were they thinking?” territory. We’re always on the lookout for the sartorially splendid during our weekly visits to 55th & Fifth, so we were really excited to hear Ralph Lauren was coming today. Imagine our surprise when the man who perfected WASP and western chic moseyed on into the dining room sporting what for all the world looked like leather-fringed chaps. A new fashion statement from his upcoming collection? We surely hope not.

We were even more intrigued when a little birdie told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane it was likely the first time fashion’s $10 billion man was in the same room with biographer extraordinaire Michael Gross, who penned the deliciously dishy tome Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren. New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn praised the book in her review, saying it “hacks through the hype and half-truths” of Lauren’s far flung lifestyle empire. We’re pleased to report the two gentlemen remained on opposite ends of the room, keeping things oh so civilized.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

Table 1. Ralph Lauren and a table full of business types.

2. Peter Brown.

3. Attention parrot heads: An almost unrecognizable Jimmy Buffett — in a blue blazer and dress shirt! — with two guests. (Mr. Mayor, were art thou?)

4. Jeffrey Katzenberg. The DreamWorks CEO was sporting his signature California casual look (v-neck and T-shirt). He passed the time waiting (?!) for his guest by sipping iced tea and reclining back in his chair elbows akimbo. When a blonde gal in a black power suit finally arrived to join him, we recognized the face, but no one seemed to know her name …

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