In Rare Sit-Down, Ralph Lauren Discusses Strategy for Success With Oprah

Notoriously press-shy Ralph Lauren sat down for a rare conversation with Oprah Winfrey at Lincoln Center recently to raise money for The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, as well as Lincoln Center (all told, the event raised more than seven million dollars). While no major revelations were made by Lauren, the evening offered insight into how Lauren thinks about his own success.

Winfrey (wearing a custom red Ralph Lauren gown) remarked of Lauren, “He would tell you that the fabric of America defined his work. But as a matter of fact, he designed the fabric.”

One of Winfrey’s final episodes for The Oprah Winfrey Show centered around Lauren and a visit to his ranch in Telluride. Winfrey said, "It took me 25 years to score an interview with Ralph Lauren.”

The love fest between Winfrey and Lauren apparently goes both ways. Lauren (wearing a tuxedo jacket, jeans and cowboy boots) commented, "Who else could I have interview me? She's the best interviewer in the world.”

A photo montage of Lauren during the show hit on the highlights of his career including the wide ties that he launched his business with in the '60s, polo shirts, Western-inspired garb, slinky satin gowns and cable-knit cashmere sweaters. There were also photos of Lauren with his wife Ricky and their three children living the charmed life against backdrops of beaches and the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by horses and vintage sports cars.

Lauren, now 72, stressed to the crowd that he is actually a product of the American dream, having had humble beginnings in the Bronx. "You are what you are," said Lauren. "I'm living proof if you work hard enough, you can accomplish something in this country."

As for how Lauren has continually been able to reinvent himself he said, "You copy. I've had 45 years of copying. That’s how I made it.”

Winfrey asked Lauren how he has been able to expand his brand of Americana luxury around the world. Lauren responded, “Good taste is international."

Despite all his success, Lauren insists he's never a moment where he really sat back and thought he'd "made it."

"I don't think I've ever said it, and I don't think I ever will," said the designer, stressing there is still room for his brand to grow in China and in Russia. News that the company is expanding rapidly overseas, in fact, brought Polo Ralph Lauren stock to a 52-week high this week. 

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