By  on March 8, 2005

BOSTON — Ralph Lauren summed up his approval of the exhibition of 16 of his racing vehicles at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with a single word: “Beyond.” The show “Speed, Style and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection” opened to the public last Sunday and runs through July 3.

The designer turned up at the opening party in the company of his wife, Ricky, who was dressed in homage to the cars in a sleek black column dress accented with a sequined chrome capelet, and children David, Andrew and Dylan, the latter in floor-length ruffled red chiffon. The designer’s other “family” — his fashion flock, which in a preppy town like Boston is quite a constituency — turned out en masse in jet-beaded ensembles and piles of the chunky turquoise the designer loves.

“I got to shake Ralph Lauren’s hand,” yelped one woman, admiring her right hand. Others came for the cars, a priceless collection that features gems like the 1938 Bugatti Atlantic, one of two left in the world.

“He was blown away to see the collection he amassed in this setting,” said Andrew Lauren, a filmmaker who splits his time between Los Angeles and New York. “Every car is a beautiful work of art on its own, but it also has a touch of Ralph Lauren.”

Andrew, who, along with older brother David, enjoys driving the cars, called the older models (which lack power steering, conventional windshields and other niceties) “beasts to drive.”

“It’s like taming a horse,” he said. “You’re challenged by it, but once you tame it, it becomes your friend.”

The designer himself wore a gray pinstriped suit to the morning press conference opening the exhibition, and lingered over his newest “child,” — a recently acquired Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia, one of four made, restored for this exhibit. He wondered aloud how he’d last three months without getting behind the wheel.

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