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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Ralph Lauren

With only a handful of shows left before she decamps to cable, Oprah Winfrey devoted the entirety of yesterday’s episode to a profile of fellow mogul Ralph Lauren. He welcomed her on horseback (as one does) to his 17,000-acre Double RL Ranch, located just outside Telluride, Colorado, and then promptly dismounted to whisk Winfrey away up the main lodge in a perfectly patinated 1948 Jeep. Here’s what we took away—besides a craving for mountain views and a collection of vintage Navajo blankets—from Lauren’s first in-depth television interview in nearly 20 years.

The Top Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Ralph Lauren
10. Parts of the 1969 Western True Grit, starring John Wayne, were filmed on the sprawling property that is now known as the Double RL Ranch (named for the shared initials of Lauren and his wife of 46 years, Ricky).

9. Why Polo Ralph Lauren? “I couldn’t call [the company] ‘Basketball,’” he told Winfrey. “I like sports. I felt that Polo represented, sort of, an international sport. It was a little more sophisticated.”

8. His Double RL Ranch includes five handpainted teepees that are tricked out with lushly appointed beds, cozy couches, Navajo blankets, and meticulously arrayed Western ephemera.

7. With 452 stores in 80 countries, he often feels that he is representing America to the world. “Whenever I go to China or wherever, I feel like an ambassador,” he said. “I’m not President Obama, but I feel like his assistant.”

6. His greatest design challenge to date? Creating a wedding dress for his daughter, Dylan, whose nuptials are planned for next month in Bedford, New York. “I had to do something that was better than ever before,” Lauren said, his eyes welling up. “I was terrorized, in reality, that’s why I’m crying.”

5. He’d rather not be called a fashion designer, a term that he didn’t hear at all while growing up. “I’m not about fashion,” he said. “I’m about living.”

4. Vintage is a virtue, and not just where Jeeps and cabins are concerned. “Clothes get better with age,” Lauren told Winfrey, offering the example of Fred Astaire, who is said to have employed someone to break in his clothes for maximum comfort. “I like my clothes when they get a little older.”

3. One of his defining moments came at the age of 20, when he was voted “general” in the Color War at a camp where he worked as a counselor. This confirmed his suspicion that he was special. “This was a stamping in saying, ‘Ralph, you really are special,’” he explained. “Someone said to me, ‘We’re picking you. You’re going to lead half of this camp.’”

2. Lauren and his family don’t get free clothes. “We get a discount, but it’s a public company,” he said.

1. He dreamed of becoming the Caped Crusader. Presumably, this was a childhood ambition. “I wanted to be Batman,” Lauren told Winfrey as they toured one of his teepees. “That’s the secret I’m telling you and everyone out there.”

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