WWD Honors Ralph Lauren, The Pierre Hotel, New York, USA - 25 Oct 2016

“I remember he took me out to lunch once,” said Jason Wu, Tuesday evening from the ballroom at the Pierre Hotel. The topic at hand was Ralph Lauren — “Mr. Lauren,” according to Wu — who received the inaugural John B. Fairchild Honor at the WWD Honors, and who drew a range of American designers to sing his praises.

“It was just the two of us,” Wu continued of the lunch, “and it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life — to me, I grew up seeing him as such a fashion legend, and I still do. I have to say, I think he’s one of the kindest, most well-respected people in American fashion.”

Ralph Lauren is the American designer,” Marc Jacobs said. “First of all, I happen to just adore him as a person — he is such a gentleman, and always has been to me, And certainly what he’s built, and his precise vision of what American fashion is and can be, is something that I’ve always looked up to and admired.”

“He’s an institution — he’s the inspiration for all of us,” said Anna Sui. “I think he personifies American fashion. From day one when I started doing shows, Ralph was the first one to send a congratulations to everyone who did a show.”

“I spent quite a few years of my life working for Ralph, and I would call him my mentor,” said John Varvatos. “I was one of the lucky who when to ‘Polo University’ — we call it [that]. There’s no one like Ralph Lauren, and there probably will never be one like him either. He changed the rules of the game, he changed how retail is done, he changed how people dream about their lives and what they want to be. Most people follow [him], and there have been so many copycats. Most people use him as the benchmark as well.”