Oprah Winfrey

“The real reason we are all here is not for the show, it’s because of you. We are here to celebrate you, Ralph Lauren and 50 years of you designing our dreams, 50 years of you stimulating our ambitions, 50 years of you creating a sense of value, that brought goodness and wholesomeness to glamour. Your story exalts our collective story. That fact that you, a boy from the Bronx, was able to have an idea about big ties and smart enough not to let Bloomingdale’s take it, and take that idea of big ties and create a gigantic company that has tentacles all over the world. And is not just about fashion, but represents what is great about America. Not just about fashion, but what is about wellness, well-being, romance and elegance.

“Your work these past 50 years has told the story of our lives, the lives that we live and the lives that we aspire to. You know I shared this story with you before but everyone else hasn’t heard this. When I first moved to Chicago and was making enough money to pay my rent and the car note and gas and electric and still have something left over, I thought I was a success. And my idea of celebrating that success wasn’t to go out and get a fancy car or jewelry, I did that later — my idea of acknowledging my success, the fact that I had made it, was Ralph Lauren towels. Not just Ralph Lauren towels, but Ralph Lauren sheets!

“And I had been aspiring to that idea for over 10 years. Because when I was a young reporter in Baltimore, I had a friend named Ellen Kingsley, her mother lived in Westchester, and they had a pool and a pool house, and in the pool house when I went to visit, there was a wall of towels. And I said, ‘Wow, Mrs. Kingsley, where did you get all those towels?’ And she said, ‘My dear, those are Ralph Lauren towels.’ And I made a vow to myself that if I ever get some money, I’m going to get me some Ralph Lauren towels. So when Barbara Walters did her very first interview with me in 1988 and came to my house, and said, ‘What have you done with your success? What have you done to splurge?’

“I said, ‘I got Ralph Lauren towels! In all colors, and bath sheets! Would you like to see my linen closet?’ and I showed Barbara Walters my linen closet, but of course it was about much more than the towels. It was about what the towels represented. A sense of comfort, warmth, luxury, aspiration. That is what you did for me, and that is what you do and what you have done for the past 50 years. You inspire us to be elevated to a higher sense of beauty. And you do that because of who you are. You are a man who cares about beauty, about family, about things that matter. You care about home. You care about freedom. You care about integrity. Integrity, a word we need more of. Your designs represent integrity, they define integrity, as do you. And that is why we are all here tonight, because of your unwavering integrity. And we are here to say, thank you for never straying from your vision. And we are here to say thank you for remaining devoted to what is true, and right and you, your design, your morals, your company. What I know for sure is what is real is what lasts. And we are here because you have lasted.

“And we are here in all our delightful acknowledgement to say thank you for bedazzling us all these years, thank you for your awe-inspiring impact, that, just like tonight, is always on time and also, so timeless on all of our lives.

“So will everyone please raise a glass as we say congratulations, bravo, bravo! Salute to you, Ralph Lauren!”

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