Welcome To Palazzo Ralph Lauren: The Label's First Private Luxury Club

It marks the start of another successful chapter for the man whose vision extends well beyond fashion.

BY Janie Cai | Mar 9, 2016 | Fashion

Photographs by Skye Tan | Styling by Eugene Lim

Sink into the plush sofa with a glass of champagne in hand and thumb through the collected works of Brâncuși or Hockney selected from the well-stocked shelves lining either side of the marble fireplace in the drawing room. Atop the mantelpiece, and nestled between blue-and-white vases and a handsome bronze sculpture of a racing steed, sits a black-and-white portrait of the owner of the house. Silver-haired and smiling, the Ralph Lauren in the frame is leaning against a vintage race car, one of many that he owns, elegant in a six-button, double-breasted blazer over a black roll neck, as befits the king of effortless style.

His latest venture is an ambitious one: the label’s first private luxury club that opened last September. The Palazzo Ralph Lauren rises like a phoenix from the company’s historic building in Milan. Built in 1941, the imposing 12,000sqft Casa Campanini is a prime example of Rationalist architecture. But the interior is indisputably Ralph Lauren, from the laid-back yet luxurious furnishings (carefully selected from the brand’s home label), right down to the artwork and the curios from around the world that dot the walls and the shelves, as curated by a team of experts.

Here is a home away from home for those who are lucky enough to be invited to join this members-only VIP club (where they can enjoy all manner of privileges, from access to exclusive items and special launches to uniquely curated experiences, such as private shopping sessions). As part of this preferential experience, Ralph Lauren’s luxury apparel and accessories, both for men and women, together with their exclusive timepieces and fine jewellery, are privately showcased for members to peruse at their leisure. Bespoke services, curated to fit into the hectic schedule of VIP clients, are also available amid unique collections for the home.

And because pleasure is all about indulging the senses, the presence of an in-house chef to create complimentary delicacies means that you can nibble on a delightful repast, as you partake of the view on the sunny outdoor terrace. The special treatment that members receive isn’t limited to just this Palazzo of pleasure; VIP guests also enjoy priority reservations at Ralph Lauren restaurants around the world (if you’ve ordered a freshly-brewed espresso at Ralph’s Coffee at their New York flagship, you’ll recognise the exacting standards of quality at work here), invitations to exclusive events and personalised service from Ralph Lauren specialists.

In his choice of site, Lauren is emphatically clear: “Milan is a unique city where people appreciate refinement, quality and style. I wanted to create an elegant custom experience that captures the glamour of the city. The Palazzo, with its rich history, provides a romantic setting to showcase the very best of my men’s and women’s collections.” And showcase them he did.

The palazzo opened its doors during the fashion week in September with a “live” fashion presentation of Ralph Lauren’s Spring 2016 Women’s Collection. We visited a few months later, during an unprecedentedly frosty January, and were greeted at the gates by waiters clad in smart black-and-white uniforms, who handed us little shot glasses of a warming amber liquid, both deliciously spiced and suitably alcoholic. Inside, the open-air courtyard had been transformed into an enclosed, cavernous hall for Ralph Lauren’s AW16 Purple Label presentation to showcase a collection that was light, fluid and undeniably luxurious. 

Ralph Lauren’s AW16 Purple Label range espoused an unmitigated softness for autumn—from shirt jackets in unlined jersey and suede, to cashmere top coats and suits inspired by the lightness of shirting fabrics. Models lined the stone steps in attire that made an effortless transition from day to evening. Natty formalwear appeared as tailored shawl-collared smoking jackets in silk jacquard—even the archetypal black suit became a unique piece in Lauren’s hands, merging classic tailoring with modern black ski-tech fabric.

A special capsule collection of athletic performance gear focused on skiing and technical pieces merged faultlessly with the label’s signature relaxed yet cultured style—cue sleek ski trousers, fine waterproof wools and an olive green quilted down jacket with a trim silhouette. Purple Label also incorporated the best of Recco Avalanche location technology by deftly blending the luxurious appeal of fine design and craftsmanship with cutting-edge advances to safeguard its wearer. A special-order racing helmet with an adjustable protective visor and custom-made earflaps was paired with steel-edge downhill skis, painstakingly designed for all-mountain terrain. A subtle hand-stitch along the ski poles inlaid with a walnut veneer reinforced the understanding that, for Ralph Lauren, style and substance are always intertwined.

New pieces made their entrance as well, including soft-collared dress shirts and richly woven textured sweaters, all perfect for keeping one snug in chilly weather. Shearling, a current fashion favourite, took centre-stage as a formidable overcoat—a singular piece of plush, rugged beauty. And in a clever juxtaposition of heritage and modernity, there appeared a cowhide trucker jacket—a piece that evinced the ideal balance of urbane luxury—much like the Palazzo Ralph Lauren itself.

From: Esquire Singapore's March 2016 issue.