With a milestone 30th anniversary fast approaching, it seemed that the flagship Ralph Lauren store on Rodeo Drive needed a little work. On Sept. 30, the reimagined 22,000-square-foot space reopens with a new, more casual and coastal aesthetic - think less Dead Poets Society chic than the Manhattan mothership. Originally designed in 1987 by the late famed interior designer Naomi Leff (whose roster of clients included Steven Spielberg and David Geffen), the luxury outpost actually was Lauren's second foray in Los Angeles; the designer originally had opened a women's boutique just across the tony street in 1971.
Why had Bronx-born Lauren, purveyor of a $3,495 cashmere sport jacket, driven his first antique-brass stake in a city where the most powerful men eschewed (and still do) shirts with buttons? The designer, 76, says: "[L.A. is] the home of so many of my dreams, inspired by the art of filmmaking and the glamorous world of Hollywood legends." His Hollywood history kicked off with his wardrobe for 1974's The Great Gatsby. Three years later, Diane Keaton spawned a fashion craze for androgyny by wearing his signature ties, vests and suits in Annie Hall.
The designer in 1971 on the site of his original Los Angeles boutique.
The store's modernized look is much like the classic look, featuring vintage oak flooring, antique fireplaces, a revamped VIP suite and outdoor terrace. But local anticipation is building more around a Ralph Lauren menu than a monogram. "We're all wondering if they will open a Polo Bar, like the one in New York," says Julie Wagner, CEO of the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau. The Fifth Avenue restaurant debuted in the spring of 2015 and is still reigning as one of the hardest reservations to nab in Manhattan (a recent request for a table for four for dinner before 10 was met with, "I have nothing available for the next month"). While the fashion mogul isn't bringing his eatery west as of yet, a full-service concierge (listed on Glassdoor.com as a position involving "hard to get reservations") will serve Polo Bar-derived light snacks and cocktails to VIP shopping clientele.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.