A TALE OF TWO RALPHS

If it had been a South of Market nightclub, the San Francisco Fire Department might have shut the place down.
But at last week's opening of Ralph Lauren's new Bay Area store, the designer had the law on his side: The city's mayor, Willie Brown, was at the door, greeting the more than 400 guests who flowed inside.
Movement through the store's boutiques seemed impossible. Even Lauren and his wife, Ricky, were jostled as they attempted to make their way from men's furnishings through the women's collection to home furnishings. Later, as Lauren caught his breath next to a display of bedding and away from the crowds, the designer said he liked the simple pleasures of San Francisco.
"I like to go for a hamburger around the corner like everybody else," Lauren said, before bolting out a side entrance for dinner--presumably not burgers--at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty.
In New York last weekend, it was a different Ralph who was causing a stir. And anyone who thinks New Yorkers are totally blasA wasn't sitting in Cafe Luxembourg Saturday night when Ralph Fiennes walked in, accompanied by Francesca Annis--who played Gertrude to his Hamlet on Broadway. His entrance made even the most jaded jaw drop, and for one brief moment, there was utter silence amid the usual din.
The jet-lagged Fiennes and Annis were in town for a few days getting ready for a performance of "Love in a Cold Climate"--a dramatic reading featuring bits of prose and poetry from Nol Coward, W.H. Auden, Emily Bront, John Dunne, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare and W.B. Yeats--Monday night to raise funds for their London-based Almeida Theater Company. On Sunday night, Fiennes turned up at Osteria del Circo for a dinner hosted by The New Yorker in honor of the cast, which also included Alan Rickman and a pregnant Natasha Richardson. "My head's swimming with the effects of a whisky sour," Fiennes warned before launching into an impromptu speech to rally support--and funds--for the theater troupe.
"Ralph should be a politician," Annis said afterward. "He can move anyone to passion--and he has no idea what he said!"

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